Read the Ingredient Label: Judge Rules Cellulose in Grated Parmesan Not Misleading

Read the Ingredient Label:  Judge Rules Cellulose in Grated Parmesan Not Misleading

Judge Gary Feinerman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed all claims in multidistrict litigation alleging that various products labeled as “100% cheese” were misleading because they contained 3.8% to 8.8% cellulose, an organic polymer with no nutritional value. Judge Feinerman held that where a label is ambiguous, the tendency to deceive a reasonable consumer may be determined as a matter of law by reviewing the context of the label, including the ingredient list. Here, Judge Feinerman held that “the description ‘100% Grated Parmesan Cheese’ is ambiguous—as are the other, similar descriptions of Defendants’ products—so Plaintiffs’ claims are doomed by the readily accessible ingredient panels on the products that disclose the presence of non-cheese ingredients. Although ‘100% Grated Parmesan Cheese’ might be interpreted as saying that the product is 100% cheese and nothing else, it also might be an assertion that 100% of the cheese is parmesan cheese, or that the parmesan cheese is 100% grated.” Moving on to the ingredient list, Judge Feinerman explained that each defendant’s product listed cellulose as an ingredient, nixing the consumers’ claims. [8/31/17]

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