Lawsuits Over ‘Misleading’ Food Labels Rise as Groups Mention US of Lax


Jennifer Jacquet, associate professor of environmental studies at New York University, said legal activism has become the single most effective tool for holding companies accountable for questionable marketing claims. Professor Jacquet, an expert in seafood production, said labeling rules for farmed salmon, for example, are so weak that companies don’t have to disclose whether their fish is healthy. wild catch or grown with antibiotics in large, tightly packed coastal enclosures that can have devastating effects on the surrounding ecosystems.

“Many of these sustainability claims are dubious and wildly exaggerated,” he said. “And given that the labeling requirements are so pathetic, consumers really have little way to determine their accuracy.”

The deceptive advertising allegations against Cargill are typical of many recent cases. Inside petition When filing with the FTC, six advocacy groups objected to the company’s prominent use of “independent family farmers” to describe its supply of turkey products. This statement appears on shrink-wrapped poultry marketed through their products. Shady Brook Farms and Honest Turkey Cheerful claims about brands and the environment are a regular feature of the company. advertising campaigns.

But production practices may be less than idyllic, critics say. “Far away from the idyllic family farms portrayed in Cargill’s marketing, Cargill’s actual production methods exploit contract farmers and slaughterhouse workers, systematically exploit animals and seriously harm the environment,” the complaint said.

“Cargill does business in a legal, ethical and responsible manner,” Cargill said in a statement, stating that the allegations are unfounded and that the company’s marketing claims are being reviewed by the USDA.

The FTC said it did not comment on pending complaints.

From a regulatory perspective, the meaning of “family farmer” is far from clear. NS USDA says The words can describe any farm where the operator or his relatives own at least half the business – a category that includes more than 97 percent of farms in the country. However, in 2018 Small Business Management He said that when it comes to federal credit decisions, the contract farming arrangements that Cargill and other large poultry companies employ should be viewed as subsidiaries, not standalone farming operations.

Angela Huffman, co-founder of the Family Farm Action Alliance, one of those who filed a complaint against Cargill, said contract farmers are often subject to orders from Cargill that determine every step of production, from the type of birds and feed they purchase. The number of equipment they had to purchase – the requirements, he claimed, could have left farm operators in overwhelming debt. As Cargill and a handful of other companies dominate the Turkish market, many contract farmers have few alternatives. “They are under Cargill’s control and then customers who see the red barn and green lawn on the label are deceived into thinking they are supporting their family farm,” he said.


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