This regular publication by DLA Piper lawyers focuses on helping clients navigate the ever-changing business, legal and regulatory landscape.
- Krispy Kreme faces suit over content of donuts. A federal lawsuit filed on November 9 against Krispy Kreme alleges that the donut company is falsely advertising the ingredients of its fruit-filled and maple-glazed donuts. In a complaint filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California, Los Angeles resident Jason Saidian charges that the company is engaged in “false and misleading business practices” because its Chocolate Iced Raspberry Filled, Glazed Raspberry Filled, Maple Bar and Glazed Blueberry Cake donuts and donut holes do not contain real raspberries, maple or blueberries. Instead, Saidian said, the donuts contain artificial ingredients that don’t provide the health benefits of actual fruit and maple. Saidian is seeking more than $5 million in damages and is attempting to represent a nationwide class of donut consumers. Mass media is reporting this story widely. The web magazine Eater commented, “Who knew donuts weren’t wholesome?”
- Voters in a California county approve GM crop ban. On Election Day, November 8, voters in Sonoma County, California, passed Measure M, a ban on genetically modified crops. The ban won 56 percent of the vote. Sonoma thus joins California’s Santa Cruz, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Marin counties in banning GM crops. Sonoma abuts four of those counties; the ban creates a 13,734-square-mile zone where GM plants cannot be grown, the largest such area in the US. The bill allows a transitional grace period to farmers who are currently growing GM crops.
- Ban on small cages for farm animals overwhelmingly passes. Voters in Massachusetts passed Question 3, an animal welfare initiative that, the Boston Globe reports, “will mandate all pork, veal, and eggs farmed and sold in Massachusetts come from pigs, calves, and laying hens not confined to ultratight quarters.” Nearly 78 percent of Massachusetts voters said yes to the landmark measure, which will be fully implemented by 2022. The new law also prohibits sales of products from animals so confined. The Globe notes that this is the first successful ballot measure in the US to outlaw the sale of products from animals raised in a particular way. Some media outlets are predicting a knock-on that will affect farms and grocery stores nationwide.
- Prison for cheese company executive. Christian Rivas, owner of Miami-based Oasis Brands, has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for his role in a deadly listeria outbreak. Rivas admitted that after agreeing to stop distribution, he deliberately continued to ship a contaminated product – specifically, Lacteos Santa Martha Cuajada en Hoja Fresh Curd, a soft cheese. Consumers in Georgia, New York, Tennessee and Texas fell ill in the outbreak and one person died. News outlets are reporting that the Department of Justice recommended a reduced sentence for Rivas due to the “defendant’s recognition and affirmative and timely acceptance of personal responsibility.” Rivas was sentenced to 15 months on a felony count and 12 months on a misdemeanor count, but he will serve them concurrently, and the court chose not to levy fines, which could have amounted to $500,000. A hearing has been set for February 2017 to explore possible restitution. See our related stories here and here.
- Santa Fe considers beverage tax. Javier Gonzales, mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is asking the city council to consider a proposal to tax sweetened beverages. The tax would be levied on an array of drinks, from sweetened sodas to iced teas, sold both in stores and restaurants. The proposal’s backers hope the measure would raise up to $10 million a year for early childhood education. Santa Fe recently emerged from a budget crisis and, the Santa Fe New Mexican observes, “Several councilors have signaled reluctance to embrace the proposal while the city’s finances remain fragile.” Mayor Gonzalez is calling for a special election on the proposal to be held early in 2017. This month, residents of four US cities voted in favor of a beverage tax, and the Cook County’s board of commissioners passed a beverage tax that makes Chicago the largest jurisdiction in the US with such a measure. See last week’s report here.
- Hawaii Hep A outbreak contained, but… Almost 300 people have fallen ill with Hepatitis A after eating raw scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai during the summer. Media are reporting that the Hawaii Department of Health now regards the outbreak as contained. But, while the incubation period for Hep A has passed, HDOH believes some cases may not have been identified as Hep A yet. “HDOH continues to be alert for people who have had onset of illness earlier but may present late to a clinician, as well as possible secondary cases,” such as family members of those who contracted Hep A. Late presenters were being found as recently as the end of October. Most of those who contracted Hep A in this outbreak live in Hawaii, but seven were visitors from the US mainland. Find out more about this outbreak here.