The very same lawyers who sued and successfully won hundreds of millions of dollars from the tobacco industry are at it once again, this time targeting food producers who provide false or misleading food label information to consumers.
The New York Times notes that the lawyers are specifically going after companies who list products such as “evaporated cane juice” instead of sugar or organizations who list “propellant” but fail to make customers aware that it contains butane or propane.
Lawyers argue that the companies involved in the misleading product notes could be in violation of specific federal laws which require food manufacturers to clearly list all ingredients found in their food items.
The lawsuits arrive at a time when obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise, causing health care providers to lose millions while forcing US officials to play hardball against fast food and processed food manufacturers.
While some cases have been dismissed such as a case in which Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries was sued for failing to include real berries, the Times notes that other more feasible lawsuits are being filed. As one lawyer proclaimed:
“Food companies will argue that these are harmless crimes—the tobacco companies said the same thing. But to diabetics and some other people, sugar is just as deadly as poison.”
At the heart of such cases is the Center for Science in the Public Interest which just recently filed suit against General Mills and McNeil Nutritionals over Nature Valley and Splenda health claims. Even the Federal Trade Commission has gotten in on the act, winning settlements from Dannon and Pom Wonderful whose health claims were disputed. Even the biggest players have not been immune, players such as CocaCola and PepsiCo who lost legal battles after their ridiculous claims that their orange juice is 100% natural.