Subject: Food Products

Vermont Federal Court Orders Ben & Jerry’s “Happy Cows” Lawsuit Out to Pasture

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A Vermont federal court dismissed a lawsuit alleging consumer fraud, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment against Ben & Jerry’s because representations about its dairy from “happy cows” did not run afoul of the law. But the court granted the plaintiff twenty days to amend.

In Ehlers v. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00194, a Vermont plaintiff sued defendants Conopco, Inc. d/b/a Unilever United States (Unilever) and its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. (Ben & Jerry’s) on behalf of a proposed class seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief. The plaintiff alleged that statements on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cartons and website were materially misleading in violation of the Vermont Consumer Protection Act (VCPA) and constituted breach of an express warranty. The plaintiff also asserted a claim for unjust enrichment.

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Ingredient Lists Still Matter: California Federal Court Dismisses White Baking Chips Lawsuit

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A putative class action complaint alleging that a product labeled “Premium Baking Chips Classic White Chips” deceptively implied the product contained white chocolate has been dismissed after a federal court held that no reasonable consumer would be deceived because the product nowhere stated “chocolate” or “cocoa,” and the ingredient list plainly disclosed the product did not contain those ingredients. The decision reflects a growing trend of district courts limiting the Ninth Circuit’s Williams v. Gerber rule that a reasonable consumer need not examine the ingredient list.

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Are You Sure You’ve Got Milk?

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Alternatives to traditional food products have increased in availability, number, variety and popularity over the last decade.  So where does this leave consumers and the regulators who are tasked with ensuring food safety?  The Ninth Circuit has held that the reasonable consumer can digest the differences between almonds and cows.

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