Today’s consumers are vigilant. In fact, cases that have been filed against the food industry have increased since 2008. The class action lawsuits filed in 2008 went from 19 to 158 in 2015. According to food litigation group Perkins Coie LLP, the food industry has compiled 114 class actions since October last year (2016).
Examples of these lawsuits include Hershey’s not putting a lot of Kisses in their bags and P.F. Chang adding an extra charge to their gluten-free products. So why are food and beverage companies facing class action lawsuits from consumers? Many attorneys are also wondering the same thing.
Food companies are now becoming the target for the plaintiff’s bar. According to Yvonne McKenzie from Pepper Hamilton LLP, a legal firm that counsels food businesses that are in trouble, there are many reasons why food companies are facing a lot of legal lawsuits.
The Food Industry Has Untapped Deep Pockets
One of the most obvious reasons is that food companies have deep pockets. They have become a lucrative target for litigations. There are a lot of gray areas regarding federal regulation. For instance, the term “natural” has no official definition from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and consumers use this to file against companies making erroneous claims about their food and beverage made from natural ingredients. Other examples include the class action lawsuit against KIND Snacks for using the claim “Healthy” on their packaging and website.
Some Courts Are Willing To Entertain Claims In Lawsuits
Another reason for the rise in food and beverage lawsuits recently is some courts are just willing to consider even the most frivolous claims. For instance, one of the ridiculous lawsuits the food industry experienced last year was when plaintiffs accused Starbucks of putting too much foam in their lattes and too much ice in their iced coffee. In general, courts are quiet when it comes to getting rid of the cases and grant the motion to dismiss the case. Even entertaining the lawsuit is giving class action attorneys precedent to take more cases to court.
Increasingly Health-Conscious Public
So far this article has probably sounded like the big bad consumers are taking advantage of the food business, right? It would be too unfair to say that. In fact, one of the greatest reasons for increases in lawsuits is the increasing awareness of the consumers about the food and drinks that they buy.
Today, there are more health conscious consumers than ever. They scrutinize just about anything in their food. Many consumers feel that companies are not transparent enough and mislead consumers with catchy packaging and marketing.
Many factors interplay the complexity of legal actions filed against food and beverage industries, and since there will likely be more class actions that will be lodged in the future, food companies should be prepared.
Inspired by www.forbes.com