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PROPOSITION 65 CLAIMS AND 4-MEI: PROVING THAT DEFERENCE TO THE FDA IS NECESSARY.

March 26, 2015

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Plaintiffs have made food labeling class actions a rapidly-growing field in recent years, particularly in the Northern District of California. They typically rely on California’s regimen of consumer fraud statutes when bringing those claims. California also has Proposition 65, which requires labeling of substances that a state agency concludes may cause cancer or birth defects. The threshold for labeling is quite low, meaning that even the most mundane items often include—or should include—warnings. Indeed, plaintiffs recently have used the “lack” of a Proposition 65 label on food products as a basis for consumer fraud and other claims even though the Food and Drug Administration finds no health risk from the relevant ingredient and already dictates labeling requirements regarding the ingredient. Such lawsuits are irreconcilable with the purpose of federal food labeling requirements.

Proposition 65 And Its Relationship To 4-MeI In Beverages.

In the past

A new circuit split regarding food labeling consumer fraud claims

March 18, 2015

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A recent opinion from the Ninth Circuit may cause considerable confusion regarding what food manufacturers may put on their labels outside of the familiar Nutrition Facts Label. In fact, the opinion filed March 13, 2015, is at odds with earlier unpublished decisions from the Ninth and Third Circuits.

Reid v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 12-56726 (9th Cir. Mar. 13, 2015), is part of the wave of food labeling class actions making its way through the Ninth Circuit. That plaintiff alleged a host of consumer fraud claims based on the defendants’ Benecol vegetable oil-based spread. Benecol’s label prominently states that the product contains “No Trans Fat.” In truth, the product contains small amounts of trans fat, which the plaintiff contends is quite harmful to human health.

The difficulty that Reid presents is that FDA regulations require that the Nutrition Facts Label on Benecol state that