June 05, 2017

FoodNavigator quotes Angel Garganta on false advertising suit over natural labeling

2 min

Venable partner Angel Garganta was quoted in a June 5, 2017, FoodNavigator article on a false advertising suit against Sargento over its labeling of cheese as natural. The suit continues a recent trend in food litigation that looks beyond the ingredients of a finished product and probes further down the supply chain.

Garganta, who represents Sargento, said the suit was "without legal basis and speculative." He added, "Sargento believes that this case has no merit. The term 'natural cheese' has been used by cheese makers for decades to differentiate it from processed cheese, so it’s very much a term of art in the industry. But aside from that, the plaintiff's theory of the case, that somehow these products are not natural because they are derived from milk that's derived from GMO feed from cows fed rBST or raised in particular ways, these allegations are entirely speculative as regards to Sargento. It's frankly implausible. We think that consumers do understand what 'natural cheese' means as opposed to processed cheese, and we don’t believe reasonable consumers understand the term natural the way this plaintiff claims they do."

Garganta noted that the FDA is probing the meaning of "natural" claims on food packaging and courts have stayed several "natural" lawsuits on grounds of primary jurisdiction. "We believe this case should be stayed on these grounds as well," he said.