Companies operating in the food, beverage, and related consumer products industries face increasing and rapidly evolving challenges. Consumers have become more discerning and health-conscious, leading to rising expectations for the goods they purchase, and questions regarding labeling, marketing, and other promotional claims. Against the backdrop of a hyper-competitive market, manufacturers strive to meet this demand for products that are, for example, natural, GMO-free, or organic, and for those that fulfill functional claims.
At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration regulates and monitors manufacturers’ claims in these industries—without strictly defining terms such as “natural,” or requiring labels to disclose that food is genetically engineered. As a result, inconsistent state consumer protection laws govern in most cases, many of which are viewed as plaintiff-friendly. All these forces combined have led to an explosion in consumer products liability claims, filed as class action lawsuits in light of the generally low economic damages for any individual consumer.
The Carlton Fields food, beverage, dietary supplement, and personal care products group represents domestic and foreign food, beverage, dietary supplement, and personal care product manufacturers in products liability litigation. We focus on defending class action lawsuits, consumer fraud claims, and personal injury and wrongful death actions allegedly stemming from the use of their products. For example, we have represented: a food manufacturer in the defense of a FDUTPA putative class action arising out of the sale and advertisement of probiotic yogurt and claims that challenged the nutritional or health claims of the product; an energy drink manufacturer in class action litigation asserting claims for deceptive and unfair advertising and marketing; and a food manufacturer in a proposed consumer fraud class action regarding the use of the word “natural” in granola bar labeling and advertising.