Litigation: What to know about the new "Big Food" lawsuits

False advertising suits abound in the food industry

In recent months, prominent plaintiffs' lawyers from Mississippi to California who once took on big tobacco companies have filed more than 25 multi-plaintiff and class action lawsuits against major food manufacturers including General Mills, Heinz, ConAgra Foods, Nabisco and more. The cases allege that food manufacturers have mislabeled their products in false or misleading ways. For example, one lawsuit involves the Greek yogurt giant Chobani, for labeling the sugar in its product line "evaporated cane juice." Plaintiffs' lawyers have alleged that the term "evaporated cane juice" is nothing more that plain sugar and to classify it otherwise is misleading.

So far, these cases have been filed in states with robust consumer protection laws, including California and New Jersey. In California, a plaintiff can be awarded unlimited compensatory damages, treble damages and substantial attorneys' fees. New Jersey has a six-year statute of limitations for this type of case, so plaintiffs' lawyers have a larger pool of potential plaintiffs to amass.

Contributing Author

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Sara Turner

Sara M. Turner is a shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC (Birmingham). Her practice focuses on litigation of product liability, commercial, long...

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