Next we spoke to Bruce Silverglade, principal at Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC.
What legislative issues will be top of mind in 2016?
FDA is planning to finalize new nutrition labeling regulations, including whether or not added sugars will be disclosed with a percentage daily value on food labels; the federal courts will decide key issues on class certification that will determine whether new cases challenging label claims will remain a practical avenue for Plaintiff attorneys to pursue; we will likely hear from the US court of appeals for the 2nd circuit whether Vermont’s GMO labeling law will take effect as scheduled, or be stayed pending the final outcome of the litigation; federal courts will decide whether New York City went too far and exceeded its jurisdiction over salt warning for restaurant menus.
In Congress, meanwhile, a revised version of the Food Labeling Modernization Act has been introduced. While it can’t move without Republican support, it represents the agenda of consumer groups who will raise the provisions of the bill, such as the labeling of sesame as an allergen, in social medial and other forums.
In brief, there will be no let-up; the food labeling field will remain in turbulent waters throughout 2016.
Will FDA probes in evaporated cane juice and natural labeling mean fewer lawsuits over these terms?
From a class action perspective, the two issues are different. FDA is simply requesting comments on 'natural' claims. In contrast, the agency is developing guidance on the labeling of evaporated cane juice. Defense attorneys will undoubtedly file motions to stay class action cases in both areas. But it remains to be seen how frequently, and for how long courts will stay class action cases on 'natural' claims, considering that the agency is only requesting comments. Time will tell.