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Beware the Empty Space – Defending Food Packaging Design Against Slack Fill Claims

April 3, 2017

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There is a recent proliferation of slack fill litigation involving food products – both class and non-class suits. If you are a food manufacturer, distributor or seller, you need to be prepared to deal with these claims. A good starting point, particularly for manufacturers, is to analyze your food packaging designs to determine if and how you can defend them in court, and if not, how you can change your packaging to mitigate your risk against slack fill claims while also preserving the success of your brand. Successful slack fill claims can impose considerable risk, from injunctive relief that disrupts distribution and sales, including product recalls, to the often enormous expense of package design overhauls, which may require you to start all over your branding efforts, to the disgorgement of revenues from sales of violating products.

Slack fill is the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the

Fifth Circuit Rules for PACA Claimants, and Weakens PACA, All in One Curious Ruling

February 15, 2017

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The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act regulates transactions in fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. It does this in part by creating a general trust for the benefit of produce sellers.  In this post written for Bryan Cave’s Bankruptcy and Restructuring Blog, Atlanta Associate Leah Fiorenza McNeill tackles some of the bankruptcy implications of the PACA trust presented by the recent Fifth Circuit opinion in Kingdom Fresh Produce, Inc. v. Stokes Law Office (In re Delta Produce), which found that “the trust structure of PACA mandates that produce sellers be paid in full even prior to the costs of counsel which collected every single dollar needed to pay those very produce sellers’ claims.”  Leah concludes:

Kingdom Fresh can be viewed as a victory for produce sellers and other beneficiaries of PACA – once again, such creditors are declared to be first among all other creditors.  But its slavish devotion to

California Extends Prop. 65 Point-of-Sale Warning for BPA for Businesses That Report Food and Beverage Product Information

January 4, 2017

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California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has extended for another year the regulation allowing businesses to provide a Prop. 65 point-of-sale warning for bisphenol A (BPA) in canned and bottled food and beverage products.

In order to rely on the point-of-sale warning for another year, however, businesses must provide information to OEHHA concerning any such products where BPA has been intentionally added.

The requested information includes the brand name, product description, FDA product category, and UPC code or other specific information. Where bsiphenol A is no longer used in the product but the product is still available in commerce, the last expiration or “use by” date should be given.  The information can be provided in a form or template on OEHHA’s website by clicking here.

The regulation allows businesses to rely on the point-of-sale warning through December 30, 2017. After that date, businesses will need to sell

FDA Releases Final Rule Allowing Voluntary Risk Reviews of Food Additives to Continue

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says its final rule allowing outside groups to evaluate food additive risks will streamline its “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) reviews.

The agency recently released its GRAS final rule for its food additive program, switching reviews from a more formal but slower “petition-based” process to a voluntary “notification” process.

Under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excepted from the definition of a food additive.

The use of a food substance may be GRAS either through scientific procedures or, for a substance used in food

New Federal Law Will Require Disclosure of GMO Content in Food

A new federal law will require food makers to disclose when foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

The law, which was recently signed by President Obama, will require such food products to be labeled with text, a symbol, or an electronic code readable by smartphone indicating the presence of GMOs. Small businesses will also have the option to label food products with a telephone number or Internet website directing customers to additional information.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has two years to draft regulations concerning which products require such disclosure, and additional details concerning what food makers must do to comply. After the regulations are finalized, food makers will have at least another year before the law takes effect.

Law preempts state and local GMO labeling laws.

The federal law preempts a similar Vermont law, Act 120, that took effect in July, as well as any other state or local

FTC Takes Action Against Personal Care Product Companies for Making False All-Natural Claims

“Natural” claims aren’t just for the food industry – the Federal Trade Commission recently approved four final consent orders against companies that allegedly misrepresented their personal care products as “All-Natural” or “100% Natural,” despite the fact that they contain man-made ingredients. For more information, see the alert posted here.

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