Californians Can Sue Over Organic Labeling: Dietary Supplement Law

picture of apple filled with dietary supplements to accompany blog post about sue over organic labeling
The California Supreme Court ruled that individuals can sue over organic labeling. Was it a smart decision, or a foolhardy decree destined to birth concern troll cases?

In the Past, Only Government Entities Could Sue Over Organic Labeling

Back in the 1990s, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established nationwide organic labeling standards. At the time, lawmakers limited claimant rights to government entities. In other words, health nuts (the annoying kind, not the good kind) couldn’t flood courts with frivolous food-related lawsuits. The reasoning? Officials felt that an open-ended claimant pool could jeopardize USDA organic standards and clog California courts.

California’s Rule Change: SCOC Says Citizens May Be Able To Sue Over Organic Labeling

At the end of 2015, the California Supreme Court handed down a unanimous – and somewhat surprising – ruling in Quesada vs. Herb Thyme Farms, a potential class action. The justices declared that private California residents can bring lawsuits against companies for slapping organic labels on non-organic products.

From the decision:

“Intentionally marketing products as organic that have been grown conventionally undermines the assurances the USDA Organic label is intended to provide. [Private lawsuits go a long way in] reassuring consumers and enabling fair competition.”

Some are skeptical about the decision, but plaintiff advocates insist a shortage of state and federal resources resulted in insufficient oversight. Allowing citizens to pursue organic labeling lawsuits, they argue, is an efficient way to make up for the prosecutorial dearth.

To SCOTUS They Go!

Some food manufacturers aren’t stoked about a possible run on the courts – especially one headed by organic crusaders. So, this case may be headed to the Supreme Court of the United States. And you can bet your tofu burger that K-street will soon be abubble with farm and food lobbyists.

Why Dietary Supplement FBA Sellers Should Pay Attention To This Case

If you sell or market organic dietary supplements, this ruling may have an impact on your business – whether or not you reside in California.

How? Why?

Well, for starters, if you sell to Californians, you can be sued in California.

Brush Up On Marketing and Advertising Law

So, how do you ensure you’re still operating on the right side of the legal fence? First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the Dot Com Disclosures and other marketing legal standards. Anyone who markets anything online should know them – intimately. The DCD adumbrates what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to online promotions. Do you need to disclose if a social media post was sponsored? The DCD will let you know. Are there any language restrictions regarding academic studies? The DCD has the answer to this question – and a bunch more.

To read a summary of the Dot Com Disclosures, head here. If you’d rather hire an attorney to make sure you’re following all the necessary online marketing regulations and guidelines, get in touch with Kelly Warner’s Aaron Kelly. A top-rated lawyer, Aaron has been practicing in the online business niche for years.

People always marvel at how little online marketing audits cost. Play it safe and get one done today. You’ll regret not doing so if the FTC comes a-knocking on your door in a few months.

Attorneys For Supplement FBA Sellers

Kelly Warner is a boutique law firm that works with supplement marketers and sellers. Our team assists with Fulfillment by Amazon legal issues and FTC compliance. We’ve helped countless people, with no previous business or marketing experience, set up and maintain profitable e-commerce operations. Reach out to our marketing and FBA lawyers today to start down a profitable path.

Article Sources

Egelko, B. (2015, December 03). State court says consumers can sue over ‘organic’ labeling. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from