The plaintiff’s notice of voluntary dismissal was submitted to the court on March 5, 2019, just over a month after U.S. District Judge Marilyn L. Huff granted Ornua Foods North America and Ornua Co-Operative Limited’s bid to toss the case with leave to amend.
In the February 4 dismissal order, Judge Huff found that the plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Judge Huff concluded that a reasonable consumer could not be led to believe that the products are derived from cows that are fed 100% grass. The judge also noted that Kerrygold’s product packaging makes no claim that its cows are fed 100 percent grass and indicated that the company’s website states the cows are fed between 85 and 90 percent grass.
“Thus, Plaintiff’s conclusion that a significant portion of the general consuming public, acting reasonably, would be led to believe that they are purchasing butter that is derived from cows that were fed only grass is unsupported,” the order states.
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The corporate entities that operate as Kerrygold are facing a proposed class action lawsuit filed in California federal court. The 37-page complaint claims defendants Ornua North America, Inc. and Ornua Co-operative Limited have misled consumers by representing that their butter products are made with “milk from grass-fed cows”; “made with milk from grass-fed cows not treated with rBST or other growth hormones”; “All Natural”; and “100% Pure and Natural.” The complaint argues that the cows from which Kerrygold products are derived are fed soy, corn and other grains, including grains that are genetically modified, and are thus not grass-fed as the defendants claim.
According to the lawsuit, Kerrygold chooses to feed its cows genetically modified and other grains instead of non-grain and non-GMO alternatives as a “cost-saving measure.” Further, the suit says Kerrygold’s position of its butter as coming from grass-fed cows is a move that preys on consumers’ preferences for healthier, higher-quality foods. From the complaint:
Kerrygold knows that consumers are aware that the quality and source of butter products make all the difference in terms of health, and that consumers are aware that the ‘grass-fed’ designation equates to increased health benefits. Just like the benefits of grass-fed beef are unique compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed butter is known by the Plaintiff and the Proposed Class to be superior to all other kinds. For these reasons, Kerrygold aggressively advertises and labels its butter products as ‘grass-fed.’”