These days, promoting the health benefits of food products is a common – and often powerful – way that companies market their goods to consumers. From pointing out what products do and/or do not contain, marketing towards consumers’ health consciousness abounds. However,the companies that use these tactics must do so carefully because the claims they make about the healthfulness of their foods have to comply with federal regulations.
All too often, companies overstep their bounds, making misleading, if not outright untrue, claims about the alleged health benefits of their products. These statements or marketing claims, which can appear on product labels/packaging or in ads for products, often constitute a violation of federal regulations. When they do:
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can take regulatory action against these companies; and
- Consumers themselves can sue these companies.
A recent FDA action against Laughing Giraffe Organics serves as an example of this type of misbranding.
How Laughing Giraffe Organics Violated Federal Regulations, Consumers’ Trust
In November 2014, the FDA initiated a review of the labels for Laughing Giraffe Organics’ Pineapple Snakaroons. Upon concluding that review, the FDA sent the company a warning letter in May 2015, explaining that regulators “have concluded that this product is in violation of section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 343] and its implementing regulations found in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 101 (21 CFR Part 101).”
Among the specific violations that the FDA noted in this letter included (but were not limited to) the company:
- Misbranding the snacks as “nutrient-rich,” “high in fiber” and a “great source of healthy fats” despite the fact that the product does not meet the federal requirements for making these claims. For example, the term “nutrient-rich” may be used only if the food contains at least 20% of the daily value of fiber, protein, or an identified vitamin or mineral. However, the level of neither protein, fiber, nor any of the declared vitamins and minerals in the Pineapple Snakaroons product reached 20% of the daily value. Similarly, the term “healthy” can only be used if the product, among other things, has saturated fat only of 1 gram or less per 30 grams of good. By contrast, the Pineapple Snakaroons product had 7 grams of fat per 22 grams of the food.
- Fabricating two or more ingredients listed on the product’s label
- Failing to include the common or usual name of each ingredient contained in the product.
The FDA warning letter provided 15 days for Laughing Giraffe Organics to issue a response, including “an explanation of each step being taken to correct the current violations and prevent similar violations.” According to the FDA, however, this case has yet to be fully resolved.
Contact the Los Angeles Consumer Attorneys at Broslavsky & Weinman, LLP
If you have been misled by a manufacturer’s misleading or dishonest claims about a product, contact the Los Angeles consumer attorneys at Broslavsky & Weinman, LLP to learn more about your potential case and options for financial recovery.
You can contact our firm by calling (310) 575-2550 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page to set up a free initial consult with one of our lawyers.