Florida Court holds “all natural” claims relating to GMOs not pre-empted by the FDA


In Randolph v. J.M. Smucker Co.,[1] the plaintiff brought a putative class action asserting that the defendant’s labeling of its Crisco cooking oils as “all natural” violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), the state false advertising statute (Fla. Stat. § 817.41), that the defendant was unjustly enriched, that it breached its express warranty that the oils were “all natural” because the oils are not “all natural” because they are made from genetically modified plants or genetically modified organisms and are so heavily processed that they have no chemical resemblance to the ingredients from which they were derived. The defendant moved to dismiss. One argument made by the defendant was that the plaintiff’s state law claims were preempted by the FDA policies on bioengineered foods and food labeling regulations. Plaintiff argued that her claim was not that there was a requirement that defendant disclose the GMO ingredients, but her claim was a challenge to the “all natural” label. The court held the claims were not pre-empted. It stated that although the FDA has issued policy statements regarding bioengineered foods, there are no federal laws, regulations or policy statements that specifically address the issue of whether bioengineered foods may be labeled “all natural”. In fact, the FDA has declined to address this question.

[1] No. 13-80581, 2014 WL 1018007 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 14, 2014).

© Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell Attorneys At Law Web site hosted on the FirmWise platform