Shook, Hardy & Bacon attorneys Ann Havelka and Jeff Lingwall provided an analysis of putative class action labeling claims against Salov North America and its Filippo Berio® brand of olive oil in a February 20, 2015, article for Law360. Kumar v. Salov North America Corp., No. 4:14_CV-02411 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 3, 2015).
The plaintiff in the case alleges that Salov’s Filippo Berio® oil is deceptively labeled as “Imported from Italy,” and that independent product tests on the “Extra Virgin” varieties indicate that they are of less-than-extra-virgin quality. According to Havelka and Lingwall, these ongoing olive oil proceedings offer food manufacturers “a cautionary example, both for traditional labeling issues and for the trend toward litigation based on product testing,” making it all the more important for companies to be “prepared with their own test results, documented production standards and quality-control protocols” to ensure that all labeling claims can be substantiated. In addition to advocating periodic labeling audits and risk assessment, they also suggest evaluating what other standards, aside from U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, could be implicated by labeling claims and invite a cause of action.