7th Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Fiber Case, With Prejudice, Largely On Preemption Grounds

October 24, 2011

By Ricardo Carvajal

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s dismissal of an action alleging consumer fraud in food labeling claims for fiber.  As we noted in a prior posting, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated state consumer fraud laws by failing to disclose that their products contain purportedly “non-natural” fibers that provide fewer health benefits than “natural” fibers. 

In its preemption analysis, the court noted that FDC Act § 403A(a)(5) prohibits a state from imposing any food labeling requirement that is not identical to the requirement of section 403(r).  In pertinent part, that section imposes restrictions on nutrient content claims for nutrients required to be included in nutrition labeling under section 403(q), one of which is fiber.  The court found that the labeling of the products challenged by Plaintiff complied with these statutory provisions and with FDA’s implementing regulations.  The court held that the disclaimers demanded by Plaintiff “are not identical to the labeling requirements imposed on such products by federal law, and so they are barred.”

In an added twist that defense counsel may wish to take note of, the court held that Plaintiff failed to state a claim under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act because that law does not apply to “actions or transactions specifically authorized by laws administered by any regulatory body or officer acting under statutory authority of this State or the United States.”