This week, the following consumer protection actions made headlines:
Teavana Settles with Consumer Product Safety Commission
Teavana, a Starbucks-owned tea retailer, settled allegations with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“Commission”) that Starbucks failed to report complaints of exploded tea tumblers. The settlement split the Commission on a company’s obligation to report complaints to the agency. Commissioner Joseph P. Mohorovic, who opposed the settlement with its $3.75 million civil penalty, said that Teavana did not have a clear obligation to report the complaints saying, “The [Consumer Product Safety Act] and our rules under it do not establish a clear line for when a company must report, but at best blurred zone of indecision.”
Made in USA Enforcement
The Federal Trade Commission closed its investigation of a mop manufacturer based on concerns that its “Made in the USA” marketing materials overstated the extent to which the mops were actually made in the United States. Unqualified “Made in the USA” claims suggest to consumers that “all or virtually all” of the parts and materials of a product are made in the United States. In this case, the FTC decided to close the investigation after the manufacturer updated the company’s website to indicate the mops used foreign materials, placed stickers on packaging that read “Made in USA with US and Foreign Materials,” ordered new packaging with qualified claims, and contacted third-party distributors to update product descriptions.
A federal judge approved a consent decree with a permanent injunction between the federal government and a food manufacturing and distribution company. The consent decree prevents the company from selling FDA-regulated foods until it complies with FDA laws relating to sanitation conditions of its food processing facilities. The FDA has been investigating the food manufacturer since August 2013, but the company, despite several warnings, failed to take necessary steps to prevent unsanitary conditions and to control disease outbreaks.