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January 14, 2007

Wal-Mart Still Mislabeling

The Cornucopia Institute has filed another complaint against Walmart, this time with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Communication.  According to the Reid Magney of the Winona Daily News (Winona, MN), WalMart claims the mislabeling is inadvertent. 

While the labeling error regarding Stonyfield yogurt (photo) may be an easy mistake to make -- some Stonyfield yogurt products are organic, but others are not -- the error has already been brought to the attention of the company. (Blogged here). Last fall, Cornucopia also filed a complaint with the USDA after the company failed to respond to complaints.  The Winona Daily News article cites numerous other mislabelings, as well.

The continued mislabeling would be troubling in any case, but even more so because WalMart is doing it.  Surely in an ideal world, all food production would follow strict organic standards, and surely in an ideal world, organic food would be readily available and affordable. So WalMart's decision to sell organic products (or grab organic market share, depending on one's perspective) should be a welcome turn of events.  But Walmart is so huge that it really could dilute organic standards.  It's not just about outcompeting small producers -- the organic ideal itself seems to be at stake.  From a law school perspective, this is a great issue -- Sho is harmed?  Who has standing to complain? How do standards become law?  What is the appropriate role of government in establishing and enforcing standards for production, labeling, and marketing?

January 14, 2007 in Issues and thoughts, Labeling, marketing, Organics | Permalink


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