Fiber Case Gets FlushedSeptember 15, 2010
By Ricardo Carvajal –
A district court dismissed a complaint alleging consumer fraud in food labeling that highlights the presence of fiber. Plaintiff alleged that defendants violated state consumer fraud laws by failing to disclose that their products contain alleged “non-natural” fibers that “have not been shown by current scientific evidence to possess all of the health benefits of natural fibers.” The court dismissed the case on the ground that the consumer’s state law claim is preempted by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("the Act"). The Act preempts any state requirement for nutrition labeling, nutrient content claims, or health claims that is not identical to the requirements of the Act. With respect to fiber, the Act and its implementing regulations require food labels to bear nutrition information on the amount of dietary fiber present in a food, specify how dietary fiber must be disclosed, authorize nutrient content claims for fiber, and specify how health claims for fiber can be made. In light of these requirements, the court concluded that the Act preempts plaintiff's demand under state law that certain fiber ingredients be labeled as “non-natural” and that the labeling disclose the purported differences in health benefits of “non-natural” fibers.