United States Court of Appeals
Consumer Protection – preemption — food labeling
Federal law preempts state law claims that nutritional information on food labels is misleading.
“The disclaimers that the plaintiff wants added to the labeling of the defendants’ inulin-containing chewy bars are not identical to the labeling requirements imposed on such products by federal law, and so they are barred. The information required by federal law does not include disclosing that the fiber in the product includes inulin or that a product containing inulin produces fewer health benefits than a product that contains only ‘natural’ fiber, or that inulin from chicory root should not be consumed by pregnant or lactating women. The only mention of inulin that we have found in a federal regulation appears in a regulation issued by the Department of Agriculture that lists inulin as one of the ‘nonorganically produced agricultural products [that] may be used as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic.”’ 7 C.F.R. § 205.606(m). The term ‘nonorganically produced’ indicates that the reference is to, or at least includes, inulin extracted from chicory root.”
“Even if the disclaimers that the plaintiff wants added would be consistent with the requirements imposed by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, consistency is not the test; identity is. Maybe such disclaimers would be a good thing (an issue on which we take no position) and the FDA should require them, but that is irrelevant to this appeal.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Gettleman, J., Posner, J.