This past week, several consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.
Litigation Bubbles Up Over Wal-Mart Beer Claims
Wal-Mart was sued in Ohio last week in a proposed class action, alleging that the company falsely marketed and priced mass-produced beer as craft beer. The plaintiff explains that he bought a 12-pack of beer that was packaged to look like craft beer, and sold at a higher price point than other mass-produced beers. In order to be called a craft beer, the Brewers Association requires that the brewery make fewer than 6 million barrels annually and be less than 25 percent owned by a mass producer. Wal-Mart’s beer is a part of a collaboration with Trouble Brewing, which the complaint alleges does not exist but is a subset of a large mass beer producer.
5-Hour Energy Runs Out of Steam in Deceptive Advertising Litigation
According to a Washington state court, the makers of 5-Hour Energy drinks must pay nearly $4.3 million in penalties for misleading consumers. The judgment consists of $2.2 million in civil penalties to the state and $2.1 million in attorney’s fees. The Washington attorney general sued Living Essentials LLC and Innovative Ventures LLC for deceptively claiming that their energy drinks were superior to coffee, which the court found was a misleading statement since the companies did not have sufficient science to back up their claims. 5-Hour Energy has prevailed in other state courts on similar claims, and says they will appeal the Washington decision.
Public Meeting Set for “Healthy” Label
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it will hold a public meeting in March to discuss the use of the word “healthy” in food product labels. The FDA is considering an update to their regulations on the subject, and is inviting interested parties to discuss consumer’s understanding of the word, as well as the definition and how the use of the word can be false or misleading. The meeting will be held March 9, 2017, at the Hilton Hotel in Rockville, MD, and will be available via webcast for those who cannot attend in person.