Update: Another “Natural” Food Class Action Advances in California

In last week’s Another Unappetizing Class Action Ruling from The Food Court post, we failed to mention an additional class action where our favorite all-natural consumer, Skye Astiana, is also one of the named plaintiffs seeking redress for alleged misleading food labeling. Ms. Astiana is one of the “et al.s” in Bates et al. v. Kashi Company, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

The suit alleges that Kashi’s act of printing “all natural” or “nothing artificial” on its packages violates federal and California laws (including, of course, § 17200). Such products, the plaintiffs argue, contain “between one and seven unnatural, synthetic, or processed ingredients.”

On July 16, Judge Marilyn Huff dismissed several of the federal law claims and common law claims, but denied dismissal on the California consumer protection law claims. She declined to find that federal nutrition labeling law preempted the state claims. She reasoned that the Food & Drug Administration’s policy statement on what “natural” means was merely advisory, and thus could not serve as a sufficiently firm policy statement for federal preemption grounds. As in the Astiana v. Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream decision discussed in our August 9 post, Judge Huff agreed with the plaintiffs that more factual development was needed on the “consumer expectation” aspect of § 17200, and thus it was premature to dispense with that claim.

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