Source - Food & Beverage Litigation Update | Issue 780

Whole Foods’ “No Antibiotics, Ever” Campaign Misled Consumers, Plaintiffs Allege

A group of California consumers and an animal welfare nonprofit have filed a putative class action against Whole Foods, alleging the grocer misled consumers about whether its beef products were truly antibiotic-free. Safari v. Whole Foods Market, Inc., No. 22-01562 (C.D. Cal., filed Aug. 23, 2022).

The plaintiffs alleged that Whole Foods’ “No Antibiotics, Ever” slogan and marketing used to tout its beef products as antibiotic-free misrepresented what consumers were actually getting in their beef purchases.

“The reality is starkly different: Whole Foods sold Beef Products without taking effective measures to ensure that they came from cattle raised without antibiotics,” the plaintiffs asserted, pointing to independent testing which they say shows evidence of antibiotic residue in Whole Foods’ beef products.

The plaintiffs noted in the complaint that consumer demand has risen in recent years for antibiotic-free meat. Consumers are also increasingly willing to pay a premium for it, the plaintiffs asserted, noting that the cost of antibiotic-free beef can be as much as 20% more than conventional beef.

For alleged violations of California’s consumer-protection, unfair competition and false advertising laws, the plaintiffs are seeking class certification, restitution, damages, injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees.

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