November 19, 2013

FoodNavigator-USA quotes Randy Shaheen on unusual false advertising suit

1 min

Venable partner Randy Shaheen was quoted in a November 14, 2013 FoodNavigator-USA article on a first-of-its-kind false advertising class action lawsuit. The suit alleges Hain Celestial advertised its Celestial Seasoning teas as 100% natural when they may have contained “potentially dangerous” amounts of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, carcinogens, and developmental toxins. Hain Celestial claims a study which is the basis of the suit was commissioned by an investment firm which stood to profit if Hain Celestial’s stock price dropped and that independent testing would show different results.

Commenting on the suit, Shaheen said he had not anything like this before. He said “it was evidence of how plaintiff’s attorneys are ‘getting more creative’ when it comes to false advertising cases vs. food industry defendants.” Since the products in question are not certified as organic, meaning strict rules apply to what pesticides can be sued, and there is no legal definition of “natural,” Shaheen argued that a reasonable consumer could assume that certain products are “probably grown with some pesticides” but are still natural. “Then it comes down to whether consumers would expect all traces of pesticides to disappear in the final product,” he added.