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Public Policy

Judge Permits Suit Against Whole Foods Over “All Natural” Claim To Proceed

By Stefanie Jill Fogel and Mary B. Langowski

A federal judge in California has given the go-ahead for most claims in a lawsuit against Whole Foods Market based on the retailer’s use of the term “all natural” to proceed. The suit, filed in November 2013, accuses Whole Foods of misleadingly labeling baked goods as “all natural” when they contain the leavening agent sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP). In his ruling on June 2, US District Judge Vince Chhabria rejected Whole Foods’ defense that the claims were preempted by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It was plausible, he said, for a reasonable consumer to interpret the words “all natural” to exclude a synthetic compound such as SAPP.

Garrison v. Whole Foods Mkt. Group, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75271 (N.D. Cal. June 2, 2014, [enhanced version available to subscribers].

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