Trader Joe’s Got Soymilk, Case Dismissed

Trader Joe’s has got “soymilk” and they can keep it. The company ducked a class action claim it misbranded as “soymilk” products that contain no cow’s milk but do allegedly contain artificial flavors and preservatives.

A federal judge Tuesday dismissed the class action by Amy Gitson alleging the grocer misled consumers by failing to disclose the artificial flavors and chemical preservatives in its “soymilk” products.

Gitson argued that the title of Soymilk violates the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates and were misbranded.

Judge Vince Chhabria disagreed.  The plaintiffs cite two FDA “warning letters” to support the theory that the tile “soymilk” violates the law.  But the FDA letters were issued in the wake of food facilities investigations and were warning letters about failure to properly store products and take precaution against pest contamination. “Almost as an afterthought, each letter noted that during inspection, the FDA investigators determined that certain food products were misbranded,” Chhabria said.  This included products with soymilk in the title because the FDA investigators said soymilk was considered inappropriate because the product does not contain “milk,” as it is understood to mean cow’s milk.

But the letters do not explain the rationale for the claimed violation nor the reason the name might be forbidden under the law, Chhabria said.

Because the complaint “does not allege conduct that would amount to a violation of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, that is the end of the matter,” Chhabria concluded.

Case: Gitson v. Trader Joe’s Co., No. 13-cv-1333


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