VOLUME 5 - 2012-2013 - ISSUE 1
5 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 119 (2013).
NATURALLY CONFUSING CONSUMERS: EXPRESS FEDERAL PREEMPTION OF STATE CLAIMS REGARDING FALSE AND MISLEADING FOOD PRODUCT LABELS
Note Written By: Taryn M. DeVeau
When choosing a box of cereal at the grocery store, consumers are bombarded with food product packaging proclaiming its contents "all natural," "whole grain," "good source of calcium," and the like. Many consumers rely on these claims to make informed decisions conceming their diets. In the midst of the current obesity epidemic, consumers have become increasingly conscious of eating nutritious food. The increase in litigation surrounding "natural" food product labeling has stemmed largely from the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) failure to adequately define the term "natural." In order to ensure more uniformity in the food product labeling express preemption analysis, courts should follow a two-step approach similar to the analysis the U.S. Supreme Court used in Riegel v. Medtronic concerning medical devices.
The first part of this note explains the defense of federal preemption generally. The second part summarizes and explains the current status of the law concerning "natural" food product labeling cases and related lawsuits. The third part discusses recent U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning federal preemption under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, (FDCA), regarding medical devices and prescription drugs. The fourth part analyzes the current FDA regulations regarding food labeling and determines whether they could be expressly preempted. Lastly, the fifth part explains the impact of the current food labeling laws on consumer behavior.