Nathan A Adams IV is a Partner in Holland & Knight's Tallahassee office
In Podpeskar v. Dannon Co., Inc., No. 16-cv-8478, 2017 WL 6001845 (S.D. N.Y. Dec. 3, 2017), the plaintiff sued alleging that she was deceived by defendant's yogurt labels, which proclaimed its products to be "all natural," whereas she claimed a reasonable consumer would not deem the products as such if he or she knew that they contained ingredients "derived" either from cows that are fed crops made from genetically modified organisms (GMO) or cows raised using hormones and certain milk production methods. The court dismissed her complaint. Current federal law does not require that the end product of animals fed with GMO feed be labeled "GMO." The court determined that there is "no legal support for the idea that a cow that eats GMO feed or is subject to hormones or various animal husbandry practices produces 'unnatural' products; furthermore, Dannon does not specifically represent that its products are either GMO-free or not given hormones or antibiotics." The plaintiff made no allegation that any ingredient used in the yogurt was unnatural, as opposed to her claim that several steps back in the food chain there may have been something unnatural ingested by a cow.
In Lee v. Conagra Brands, Inc., No. 1:17-cv-11042, 2017 WL 6397758 (D.Mass. Oct. 25, 2017), the plaintiff sued alleging that she was duped into purchasing Wesson brand vegetable oil because it is labeled "100% natural," when it is extracted from corn, soybean and rapeseed grown from genetically modified stock. The court dismissed the case filed under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute because the plaintiff failed to allege that Wesson oil contains added color, synthetic substances or flavors, or contains anything that would not normally be expected to be in vegetable oil. Furthermore, the court determined that the defendant is not required to disclose on the label the use of genetically modified or bioengineered plants in making Wesson oil. As the label conforms to FDA labeling policy, the court ruled it could not be unfair or deceptive.
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