Lawsuit Challenges “Pasture Raised” Claims: Bucolic Brouhaha
Lawsuit alleges that an egg retailer falsely labeled eggs as “pasture raised”.
The term “pasture raised” is the latest labeling claim to become embroiled in controversy. Like the term “natural” (which has been the subject of extensive consumer litigation), the term “pasture raised” is also not currently regulated at the federal level.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), and The Richman Law Group recently filed a complaint in D.C. Superior Court against an egg retailer alleging that its “pasture raised” eggs are actually being sourced from supplier farms that provide limited indoor space or outdoor access, thereby falling short of consumer expectations. The lawsuit, which alleges that the “pasture raised” claims violate the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, was filed in spite of certification by the American Humane Association (AHA) touting the retailer’s eggs as “100% pasture raised”.
This latest case represents another example of the ongoing regulatory and litigation risk faced by food companies responding to increasing consumer demand for “clean label” foods, particularly in cases where a marketing claim is not federally defined. The outcome of this case could dictate whether, and the extent to which, we see additional “pasture raised” consumer lawsuits, and whether USDA (the key agency regulating eggs, meat and poultry) will ultimately consider regulating such claims, similar to FDA’s recent actions on the “natural” front.