Friday, March 7, 2014

Salty Sunflower Seed Suit Fails For Snacker

Are sunflower seeds worth going to court over? Apparently.

Well, for one California woman at least.

Nebraska’s ConAgra Foods, Inc., was sued by an angry sunflower seed eater from California named Aleta Lilly. The federally-required food nutrition label on the package of “David” brand seeds was a fraud, in her opinion. Here’s how the opinion from United States Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit summarized her case:

“…the plaintiff alleges that the tasty coating placed on sunflower seed shells is intended to be ingested – and is ingested – before the inedible shell is spat out and the kernel eaten; that is what is expected before expectoration. Therefore, the sodium content in a “serving” of sunflower seeds, as stated on the package, must include the sodium contained in the edible coating.”

Lilly felt California state consumer laws should be applied. ConAgra disagreed.  The three-judge panel sided with Lilly, stating nothing in federal law should block the lawsuit from proceeding. The ruling came down last month.(Read it here)The issue of whether the labels were misleading was not resolved and will be debated at trial.

There might have been a bit of exasperation expressed in the ruling, authored by Judge Barry G. Silverman:

“Some days we are called upon to consider such profound issues as eleventh-hour death penalty appeals, catastrophic threats to the environment, intense and existential questions of civil and human rights, and the most complicated, controversial problems in civil, criminal and administrative law. Today we consider the coating on sunflower seeds.”
 Another agriculture law case made the news in Nebraska this week.  Read about it here:  
Egg Battle Lands In Court. High Stakes for Farmers and Animal Welfare Group