Could food companies face class action suits for carrying organic label?

Last month, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y.) issued a ruling on a motion to dismiss in Segedie v. Hain Celestial Grp., Inc., allowing a consumer class action alleging false and misleading “organic” claims to move forward, finding that these claims under state consumer protection laws were not preempted by federal organic laws and regulations.

Plaintiffs in this case allege that they purchased various “Earth’s Best” brand foods and other products sold by Hain Celestial. The complaint identifies 62 food products and 12 body care products labeled as “organic,” and seven foods products and eight body care products labeled “natural” or “all natural”, alleging that these claims were false and misleading because the products contain ingredients that they allege are synthetic or are not permitted in organic products under the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, even if the products were certified organic by a USDA accredited certifying agent.

The court held that federal law did not preempt the state cause of action regarding the organic claims and denied the motion to dismiss with regards to those claims.

So is “organic” the new natural? Does this ruling open the door for a natural-esque deluge of class actions? We’ll have to see, but we found the decision troubling. The court’s willingness to allow plaintiffs to second-guess the decision by an NOP certifying agent that a product qualifies as organic may indeed open the door to a flood of class actions and seems to be the type of conflict that the preemption doctrine was meant to avoid.  If a marketer cannot rely on that certification, doesn’t that gut the certification program that Congress created?

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Is Organic the New Natural?: The Impact of a Court Holding that an “Organic” Claim Is Not Preempted By Federal Law

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend