HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Supreme Court Seeks Consultation on Food Labeling Law

The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Justice Department on Monday for advice on a bid by the nation's largest grocery chains to block customers from suing over violations of government food-labeling rules.  The Los Angeles Times writes,

Gavel4Supermarkets led by Supervalu Inc., Safeway Inc. and Kroger Co. contend that only government regulators, and not customers, can enforce federal and state labeling laws. The companies are seeking to stop a suit accusing them of concealing that salmon they sold contained artificial coloring. The California Supreme Court cleared the customer suit to go forward.

In their appeal, the supermarkets said the California court ruling was "an open invitation to private plaintiffs nationwide to bring class actions."

The high court's request, directed to U.S. Solicitor Gen. Gregory Garre, signals that the justices may add the case to their 2008-09 docket.

The central question for the court in the new case is whether the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which governs food labeling at the federal level, bars private efforts to enforce similar state laws.

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I think individuals should be able to sue over food labeling issues! Absolutley! The FDA and other regulatory agencies can't/don't provide the necessary oversight on every food product that hits the shelves of the grocery store. Consumers should assume some responsiblity in knowing what's in the food they are eating and a reasonable way to do that would be to read the ingredient label. If it turns out that there is an ingredient in the food which is not declared on the label then why wouldn't they sue? What if someone had an allergy to an undeclared ingredient and ended up in a medical crisis as a result of consuming it? What if they had a religious opposition to consuming certain products? Or simply choose to avoid a specific product? People have a right to know what is in the food they are eating and if regulatory agencies don't do it then who will?

Posted by: Paige | Oct 8, 2008 8:53:06 AM

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