A group of consumers has filed a putative class action against Abbott Laboratories, Inc. alleging the company misrepresents its Similac Advance® Organic Infant Formulas because several of the ingredients are banned by federal law from use in food labeled “organic.” Marentette v. Abbott Labs., Inc., No. 15-2837 (E.D.N.Y., filed May 15, 2015).
The plaintiffs challenge the products’ inclusion of beta carotene, biotin, taurine and lutein, among several other ingredients, and additionally assert that “at least one ingredient in these infant formulas is produced using genetically engineered materials—a practice forbidden in organic foods.” The complaint contends that Abbott knew that consumers would pay more for organic products and willfully misled them. The plaintiffs seek class certification, damages and an injunction for alleged violations of New York and California consumer-protection statutes, unjust enrichment and breach of warranty.
Since the complaint was filed, Abbott has begun offering a version of Similac Advance® manufactured without genetically engineered ingredients, citing customer requests, but says it has no plans to entirely phase out the use of such materials in its infant formulas. See Chicago Tribune, May 29, 2015.