Food Labelling Lawsuits


A huge food fight is cooking in the United States. A battle between some Titans of the food industry and some big time lawyers. A group of lawyers who once took on Big Tobacco -- and won-- is now going after food companies for what they allege are false claims. The mislabelling of all sorts of products from cooking sprays to yogurt.

Today's guest host was Piya Chattopadhyay.

Part One of The Current


It's Friday August 24th.

A Brooklyn, New York judge recently ruled that poker is more a game of skill than of chance.

Currently, the dogs in that painting are obviously highly trained.

This is The Current.

Food Labelling Lawsuits - Former Federal Prosecutor

We started this segment with an advertisement for Nutella.

Nutella does indeed contain hazelnuts, skim milk and cocoa. It also has 21 grams of sugar, 11 grams of fat and 200 calories in every two-tablespoon serving -- almost as much fat and as many calories as you'd find in a typical candy bar.

Last year, the company that makes Nutella spent 3 million dollars to settle a lawsuit which claimed that its ads misled people into thinking Nutella is a healthy food choice. And now, a group of American lawyers who made their careers taking on tobacco companies with lawsuits in the 1990s ... is going a step further.

In the last four months, more than a dozen lawyers have filed 25 lawsuits against some of the world's biggest food companies. In all cases, the lawsuits allege the companies aren't telling the whole truth on the labels on their products.

Keith Fleischman is a former federal prosecutor who is co-counsel in these cases. He was in New York City.

Food Labelling Lawsuits - Communications Manager for Chobani

A spokesperson for ConAgra Foods, the company that makes Pam cooking spray says their product meets all federal health and safety guidelines and sent us a statement saying: when Pam is sprayed, a small, non-harmful amount of gas propels the spray and quickly dissipates, leaving the oil in the pan to prepare your food.

Lindsay Kos is the Communications Manager for Chobani, another of the companies cited in one of the 25 lawsuits. We aired a clip with what she had to say.

Food Labelling Lawsuits - Adjunct Scholar, Cato Institute

For a different take on these lawsuits, we were joined by Patrick Basham. He's an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute. Before that he served as the founding director of the Social Affairs Centre at Canada's Fraser Institute. And in 2007 his book Diet Nation: Exposing the Obesity Crusade, foreshadowed today's anti-Big Food lawsuits. We reached Patrick Basham in Bowie, Maryland.

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott and Pedro Sanchez.

Other segment from today's show:

The Electric Fog of War: Documentary Repeat

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