Posted January 24, 2014
The United States Supreme Court has granted cert. in a food labeling case, Pom Wonderful, LLC v. Coca-Cola, according to an article by Food Product Design available here. The petition for writ of certiorari is available here.
The appeal will examine whether the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) bars a false-advertising claim under the Lanham Act.
In 2008, Pom Wonderful filed suit against Coca-Cola, claiming that Coca-Cola made false claims under the Lanham Act because its Minute Maid “Pomegranate Blueberry” juice contained 99 percent apple and grape juices, only 0.3 percent pomegranate juice, and 0.2 percent blueberry juice.
In Pom Wonderful, LLC v. Coca-Cola Co., 679 F.3d 1170 (2012), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FDCA and its regulations prohibited name and labeling claims under the Lanham Act, which authorizes lawsuits against defendants who use false or misleading descriptions about any goods. The court held that Pom Wonderful could not challenge the name of the juice because the FDA regulations authorized the name. The court also stated that Pom Wonderful’s request that Coca-Cola reduce the size of the words “Pomagranate Blueberry” on labeling would also “undermine the FDA’s regulations and expert judgments.” The order is available here.
Pom Wonderful said that the Ninth Circuit ruling “undermines the transparency that health-conscious consumers rightly expect so that they can make informed decisions about what they eat and drink,” as reported by Bloomberg here.
Coca-Cola said, “We are confident our labeling fully complies with applicable FDA regulations, as the lower courts have consistently found.”
For more information on food labeling, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here