This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Food Industry Faces Labeling Challenges

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Companies in the food sector ranging from the planters Monsanto (MON), to the protectors DuPont (DD), to the producers Kellogg (K), have all increased efforts to influence food labeling legislation, both at the federal and state levels.

While it may seem harmless to mandate that there be accurate and full disclosure, the potential legal liability from such rules and regulations is staggering. Already companies in the sector such as Campbell's (CMP) and Unilever (UNLV) have suffered from lawsuits, raising the specter of a massive legal offensive rivaling that endured by the tobacco industry for decades at a cost in the hundreds of billions, with no end in sight.

Over 100 lawsuits have already been filed in the past two years challenging the claims of food companies for products being labeled as "natural." Defendants have included Kellogg's, Unilever, Campbell's, Ben & Jerry's, and others. Some lawsuits have ended up in multi-million-dollar settlements, much like those filed against the tobacco industry. Also eerie is that those filed by the tort bar seeking class-action status for those consumers who purchased the products.

At present, Campbell's is being sued in Florida for misrepresenting soup as being natural when it had used genetically modified ingredients. The lawsuit alleges that Campbell knowingly used genetically modified seeds, yet still labeled the ingredients as "natural."

Campbell's attempted to have the lawsuit thrown out, but U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas refused, denying that jurisdiction rested with the Food and Drug Administration or that the United States Department of Agriculture even knew that the soup contained genetically modified ingredients.

A major problem here is that there is no clear, precise legal definition of "natural" for food products.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,067.56 -30.89 -0.18%
S&P 500 2,002.28 -1.09 -0.05%
NASDAQ 4,598.1880 +17.9170 0.39%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs