Litigation: Food false advertising class actions on the rise

Companies in food, restaurant and hotel industries should re-examine their marketing language to stay safe

“Food companies will argue that these are harmless crimes – the tobacco companies said the same thing.” - Don Barrett, Barrett Law Group

Throughout 2012, a wave of new class-action lawsuits in the food industry continued to roll forward. A powerful and well-financed consortium of plaintiffs’ attorneys, some of whom have in the past challenged big tobacco, asbestos manufacturers, the automobile industry and pharmaceutical companies, have set their sights on the food industry. In August 2012, The New York Times reported that at least 25 class actions had been filed in 2012 against food industry defendants, with more filed in the fall and winter. These cases challenge some of the largest food companies in the world including Chobani, ConAgra Foods, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, General Mills, Heinz, Kellogg, Pepsico, Unilever, Welch Foods, Inc. and others. Industry experts are watching these cases closely to see how they fare, what food industry companies should do to immediately reduce the risk and what lessons other industries can learn to avoid becoming the next targets.

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David Barnard

David Barnard is a partner in Lathrop & Gage LLP's intellectual property division of the firm's Kansas City office. His litigation work has included patent,...

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