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Missouri Alcohol Retailers no longer Tongue-Tied by Tied-House Restrictions on Advertising

Missouri tied-house law, which restricts dealings between suppliers, wholesalers and retailers, is currently in flux following a recent ruling by the US District Court for the Western District, which held that several of Missouri’s regulations pertaining to supplier advertising were unconstitutional.  This pivotal opinion—which has wide-ranging implications for alcohol advertising in the state—was appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on October 11, 2018 and has garnered widespread attention in the industry.  The case raises economic and practical issues for retailers and significant legal and policy issues for state regulators.

In June, 2018 the District Court struck down three types of restrictions on alcohol advertising: 1) a restriction forbidding media advertising of price discounts—including restrictions prohibiting retailers from offering discounts on the purchase of beer or wine and from outside advertising of discounts on alcohol; 2) a restriction forbidding retailers from advertising prices below cost; and 3) a statute

Ninth Circuit Blocks San Francisco’s Warnings Ordinance for Sweetened Beverages

In a decision likely to have important implications for regulation of commercial speech, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked a San Francisco ordinance requiring warnings about the health effects of certain sugar-sweetened beverages on fixed advertising.

In American Beverage Association v. the City and County of San Francisco, a three-judge panel held that the California Retailers Association, American Beverage Association, and the California State Outdoor Advertising Association are likely to prevail in their lawsuit challenging the ordinance as violating the First Amendment, and reversed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the ordinance.

The ordinance, S.F. Health Code § 4200 through 4206, was enacted in June 2015 and would require the following warning on any advertisement that “identifies, promotes, or markets a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage for sale or use”:

“WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message

The Last Unicorn… Frappuccino?

While the mythical unicorn is a rare creature, it has recently become a marketing phenomenon, with the unicorn’s rainbow-laden powers being harnessed to sell unicorn-themed products that can cover you from literally head to toe, i.e., from makeup (such as “Unicorn Snot®”, a glitter gel) to slippers and even a toilet spray made with “unicorn farts” (Squatty Potty’s “Unicorn Gold®”). Perhaps inevitably, brand owners have begun to battle over who can lay claim to a unicorn trademark. And this includes drinks that sound like coffee (but largely are not).

Click here to read the Alert prepared by Bryan Cave attorneys Eric Schroeder, Steven Alagna and Nick Williamson in full.

New Federal Law Will Require Disclosure of GMO Content in Food

A new federal law will require food makers to disclose when foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

The law, which was recently signed by President Obama, will require such food products to be labeled with text, a symbol, or an electronic code readable by smartphone indicating the presence of GMOs. Small businesses will also have the option to label food products with a telephone number or Internet website directing customers to additional information.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has two years to draft regulations concerning which products require such disclosure, and additional details concerning what food makers must do to comply. After the regulations are finalized, food makers will have at least another year before the law takes effect.

Law preempts state and local GMO labeling laws.

The federal law preempts a similar Vermont law, Act 120, that took effect in July, as well as any other state or local

FTC Takes Action Against Personal Care Product Companies for Making False All-Natural Claims

“Natural” claims aren’t just for the food industry – the Federal Trade Commission recently approved four final consent orders against companies that allegedly misrepresented their personal care products as “All-Natural” or “100% Natural,” despite the fact that they contain man-made ingredients. For more information, see the alert posted here.

FDA Extends Comment Period for “Natural” Input

As many of you know, FDA has opened a docket to accept comments on whether and how it should define the term “natural” for food labeling purposes.  Today, FDA announced that it will be extending the comment period until May 10, 2016.   As outlined by FDA:

Although the FDA has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition for the term “natural,” we do have a longstanding policy concerning the use of “natural” in human food labeling. The FDA has considered the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food. However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods,

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