With the clean beauty movement on the rise, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has started to pay closer attention to how companies label and market personal care products. Although the FTC does not have its own definition of the term “organic,” it can bring enforcement actions based on allegedly false or deceptive advertisement of products labelled as “organic” under standards promulgated by other agencies.
Continue Reading Not So Organic: The FTC Takes Action Against Personal Care Products

Have you eaten “America’s Favorite Pasta”[1] or received a “record-breaking” [2] footbag with your fast-food meal? While these products may seem to have little in common, they have a shared experience – each was the target of a false advertising claim. The statements raise the always-burning question for manufacturers: what is mere puffery and what constitutes false advertising?
Continue Reading Not Another Puff Piece: The Difference Between Puffery and False Advertising

On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) again delayed the deadline for restaurants and grocery stores to implement new calorie labeling rules. Originally set for May 5, 2017, the agency pushed back the deadline a second time, now requiring compliance by May 2018.

However, the delay may have come a little too late. Delaying compliance less than 10 days before the deadline provides little help to businesses that have already worked to comply. And uncertainty still remains as to what the labeling rules will be when compliance is required.
Continue Reading Three Ways to Deal with the FDA Calorie Labeling Delay

This month, food industry trade groups called on the Food & Drug Administration to halt its new food labeling law requiring food establishments to publish the calorie content of menu items.

Organizations like the National Grocers Association (NGA) and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) continue to argue against the law. The major reason: costs. Not only the costs they’ll incur to implement it, but the long-term costs to remain compliant may be even higher. And research continues to show that menu labeling does not change consumer behavior.
Continue Reading Is Counting Calories a Cost or a Benefit?

As Chipotle continues the fight to restore its reputation, there are a few signs it’s moving in the right direction since our July 2016 post.

First, in February 2017, Chipotle’s sales rose for the first time in five quarters. And it reclaimed its place as the top Mexican food restaurant according to Market Force Information’s annual quick-service restaurant study. It further earned top marks for food quality and cleanliness.
Continue Reading Chipotle Gets a (Nearly) Clean Bill of Health

Monsanto has, at least temporarily, lost its fight to avoid a Prop 65 warning label on its products containing glyphosate, a chemical used in the popular herbicide Roundup. On January 27, 2017, a California judge tentatively dismissed Monsanto’s claims that the State of California unconstitutionally turned to an unelected, European organization to decide whether glyphosate posed a cancer risk.
Continue Reading Monsanto Uses the Constitution to Challenge Warning Labels for Herbicide

Food labeling litigation increased significantly last year, with many consumer groups alleging that products were misleadingly labeled and violated U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeling requirements. Consumers targeted phrases like “all natural,” “preservative-free,” or having “no preservatives.”

But FDA rules are unclear as to what these terms mean, which will likely spur more labeling litigation in 2017. Here we look at three main reasons for the anticipated increase in litigation.
Continue Reading Food Fight: More Labeling Litigation in 2017

This summer President Obama signed a new federal law requiring food manufacturers to disclose information regarding genetically modified organisms (GMO). The new law is different from the 2015 proposed GMO legislation which restricted states from enacting GMO labeling laws but didn’t contain federal labeling requirements.

The law represents a compromise between consumer groups and food manufacturers: it gives consumers access to information, and manufacturers flexible means of compliance and the benefit of a uniform federal standard.

The federal law, titled The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, leaves many issues unsettled. Two areas are attracting the most attention: the law’s digital disclosure methods and the definition of bioengineered food.
Continue Reading Federal GMO Disclosure Law Creates Uniform Standards for Food Manufacturers & Provides Options for Disclosure

We wrote last month about the challenges facing Chipotle, a favorite restaurant of many Americans. Now another industry leader is facing similar challenges. Whole Foods Market Inc. has had a tough few years. Most recently, the Food and Drug Administration, in a series of crackdowns, told the industry’s leading company to clean up its act.

On June 8, the FDA issued a warning letter to the co-CEOs of Whole Foods, John Mackey and Walter Robb. The letter stated that the health food chain had 15 days to address the “serious violations” the FDA found while inspecting the company’s Massachusetts ready-to-eat food preparation plant in February.
Continue Reading Truly Whole Foods? The FDA Thinks Not

In April 2016, we posted about the lawsuit brought by environmental food and safety groups, along with fisherman trade associations, to reverse the FDA’s approval of a genetically engineered (GE) salmon. The complaint alleges that the FDA failed to evaluate how the GE salmon will impact the environment and that the farmed salmon will inevitably escape, “interbreed with wild endangered salmon, compete with them for food and space, or pass on infectious disease . . . .”
Continue Reading GE Salmon: What’s Really at Steak