The California Supreme Court has recently overturned a ruling made in District Court regarding a lawsuit that accused Herb Thyme Farms for falsely labeling products as organic. According to the suit, the company mixed organic and non-organic herbs, then falsely labelled them as “100% organic.” District Court ruled against the plaintiff, saying that they had no jurisdiction over the topic, because it was the federal government’s duty to police organic labeling. The Supreme Court overturned that ruling recently, stating, “Accordingly, state lawsuits alleging intentional organic mislabeling promote, rather than hinder, Congress’s purposes and objectives.” This new ruling now allows consumers to file lawsuits against corporations for mislabeling organic products, and is expected to bring about much needed change regarding organic label regulation and standards. “We may see more lawsuits involving personal care products falsely labeled as ‘organic,’ an area that the USDA doesn’t police…or ‘organic’ infant formulas that have several synthetic ingredients in them.” Stated Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director for the Organic Consumer’s Association. In essence, the ruling will open up opportunities to scrutinize organic labelling on a wide variety of products, not just food, and set standards for body care products. “The USDA defines organic, and they enforce that definition for food,” says Baden-Mayer. “So when consumers see other products, like body-care, labeled organic, they expect those products to meet the same standard. Now that there’s a threat of enforcement, we’ll see fewer body-care products labeled organic, but the ones that are, we’ll know meet the same organic standard as food and that’s a very high standard.” As far as ‘natural,’ labelling goes, it is unclear whether or not this ruling will regulate or define the meaning of ‘all natural,’ but the FDA has apparently opened up a public discussion of the definition, so if a stricter definition were to be adopted, it would probably follow organic labeling litigation form closely.
If you suspect a corporation to be dishonest in organic labeling, the lawyers at Hodes Milman Liebeck are there for you in your time of need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.