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US lawyers target food manufacturers over unhealthy products

22nd October 2012

Don Barrett told the BBC that he wants to help people affected by the claims of food giants that their products are healthy when they clearly are not.

“We’re not saying the food industry is the same as the tobacco industry that kills 500,000 Americans a year, but we are saying there is an epidemic of obesity that is affecting the overall health of the American people,” he said.

Mr Barrett and around 12 other lawyers have already filed lawsuits against some of the largest US food manufacturers, whose products include fruit juices, crisps, soft drinks, chocolate, tinned tomatoes, canned fruits, baby food and tea.

The lawyers believe the success of their product liability lawsuits will hinge on mislabelling which gives a false impression that a product is healthy. For instance, certain products in the US are labelled as containing “evaporated cane juice”, another name for sugar, and food manufacturers use it because they believe the term creates an impression of healthiness.

Experts say that around 25% of US food products are being mislabelled, and Mr Barrett believes that the scale of compensation owed to consumers could very easily be similar to that of the sums required to settle the tobacco claims.

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