These 3 Food Lawsuits Could Mean a Different Story for the Food Industry
As we come to the end of the year, let’s take a closer look at the major food lawsuits that could leave a lasting impact on the food industry.
Lawsuits are no new thing for food and beverage makers. Sometimes, a cup of coffee burns a consumer’s legs and McDonald’s pays millions of dollars, or consumers sue the beverage manufacturer because they feel its product’s label “Red Bull gives you wings” misinforms them.
Not to forget the health risks of pathogen-tainted foods. Remember JBS Tolleson’s massive recall of raw beef products due to Salmonella contamination. We have also seen lawsuits filed against players such as General Mills for selling glyphosate-tainted granola bars.
These are just a few examples of how consumers are being more aware of what they eat or drink. One of the best indicators of the “increased consumer awareness” is that lawsuits challenging food makers have increased in recent years.
According to a review by Perkins Coie LLP, there were nearly 150 lawsuits filed against the food and beverage makers. Notably, the number was more than that in the year 2016. Experts expect a similar trend in 2018 as well.
While not all these lawsuits are going to harm the food industry in the long run, some are poised to impact the food and beverage industry big.
1. LaCroix: Natural or Synthetic?
Right now, we do not have an answer for this particular subject, as the case is ongoing.
On October 1, LaCroix faced a lawsuit for allegedly mislabeling its sparkling water as “natural”.
According to the legal complaint, synthetic substances such as ethyl butanoate, Limonene, Linalool, and Linalool propionate are present in the product. Notably, Linalool is an insect-repellent used to control pest in poultry production.
The complaint filed in Cook County, Illinois demands the manufacturer to remove “all-natural” from the product label.
This might look like a normal lawsuit. But it has already dented the reputation of National Beverage Corp., the parent company of LaCroix.
Besides, it has brought the problems with the term “all-natural” to light. Sadly, there is no industry standard that accurately defines what the term means.
2. JBS Tolleson’s Beef Recall Could Hit Meat Manufacturers Longer than Expected
This is because consumers may file lawsuits months after the recall is over. Even worse, as the amount of recalled products swells, we might see even more lawsuits in the future.
So far, the Arizona-based meat processor JBS Tolleson has recalled more than 12 million pounds of raw beef products citing possible contamination with Salmonella.
JBS faced the first lawsuit on October 5th from a consumer. The consumer became ill with Salmonella after eating ground beef produced by the company. Interestingly, the case was later dismissed without prejudice.
While the dismissal might be a big sigh of relief for JBS, this is surely a wake-up call for other manufacturers. In fact, they should learn from the JBS case and take the necessary steps to ensure consumer health.
3. Glyphosate in Cheerios: Is there a “Safe” Limit?
A debatable question.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in a popular gardening spray, Monsanto’s Roundup Weed and Grass Killer.
This question has recently come up because a jury in California awarded a former school groundskeeper over $200 million this past August. The terminally man received this ruling because the glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup Weed and Grass Killer was named as the likely cause of his cancer.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says several oat-based breakfast foods also contain glyphosate.
According to the EWG, the amount present in these foods can cause cancer. On the other hand, manufacturers argue that the amount of glyphosate is too little to cause any harm.
In August, a woman from Florida filed a case against General Mills in the Southern District Court. The woman claims General Mills did not declare the presence of glyphosate in its Cheerios products.
After the lawsuit, General Mills decided to remove “Made with 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats‘’ from its granola bars.
This is a huge relief for the plaintiff as well as everyone with a concern of what goes into their body. Nonetheless, many manufacturers still argue that the amount of glyphosate in their products is within the limits.
Well, regaining consumer’s trust is certainly going to be an uphill task for the manufacturers as the consumers do not want to put pesticides into their body, no matter how little it is.