The food and beverage industry is facing a flood of lawsuits over marketing, reported Bloomberg Law in a June 28, 2022, article that featured insights from a recent McGuireWoods webinar. And the trend shows no signs of abating as consumer suits take aim at more ethics-based selling points.
“I keep thinking these class actions have to slow down at one point, but they just keep increasing,” said partner R. Trent Taylor during McGuireWoods’ Food and Product Labeling Litigation and Regulatory Updates webinar on June 8. Based in Richmond, Taylor defends clients in complex class actions, including litigation involving food, cosmetic and supplement labeling issues. He co-chairs the firm’s consumer class action and food safety and labeling subgroups.
As noted at the webinar, 170 new class actions concerning labeling have been filed since the end of March 2022. Sixty concerned food and beverage products. Over the past few years, many of these suits have targeted big-name companies over environmental, social and governance (ESG) claims made on product labels and in other marketing statements, Bloomberg Law reported.
The McGuireWoods webinar — part of a quarterly series — also highlighted a new target on the scene. Quick-service restaurants have been subject to an increasing number of suits in recent months, including some over concerns that they use PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), known as “forever chemicals,” in packaging. Several companies were sued this spring over their alleged use of PFAS in product packaging portrayed as safe and sustainable.
It’s not yet clear how judges will respond to this deluge of ESG cases, Bloomberg Law noted, but it is certainly increasing the demand from food and beverage companies for advice about how to better back up their claims.