NY appeals court grants interim stay for sodium warning.

  • Just last week, a New York Supreme Court judge upheld New York City’s precedent-setting sodium warning requirement for chain restaurants.  Starting on March 1, restaurants that failed to display the required warning language to indicate high-sodium foods would have been subject to fines.
  • On February 29, a New York appeals court granted an interim stay of enforcement of the rule.  The current action puts the rule on a temporary hold pending a decision of a full panel of the court later this month.
  • Counsel for the National Restaurant Association has lauded the appellate court’s action, although NYC officials state that they remain “confident” that they will ultimately prevail despite the temporary stay of enforcement.  The Department of Health plans to continue to warn non-compliant restaurants in the meantime, even though they will not issue notices of violation while the stay is in place.

Cheese company executive pleads guilty to misdemeanor charge.

  • Following up on our recent post about allegations of widespread economic adulteration of parmesan cheese, the president of Castle Cheese, Inc. — the company that received a 2013 FDA Warning Letter for marketing “parmesan cheese” products that did not contain any actual parmesan cheese — has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor adulteration and misbranding charges.  As part of a deal with prosecutors in the case, the executive will receive probation instead of a prison sentence, and two other businesses controlled by her family will have to forfeit $500,000 each.
  • In a development that will come as little surprise to the food industry, multiple class action lawsuits have been filed based on allegations that parmesan cheese products on the market are labeled as “100% Parmesan Cheese” although they also contain wood pulp.  Kraft Heinz and Wal-Mart are among the companies defending these suits.