SC Johnson Sued Over Ziploc’s Food Preservation Claims (subscription to Law360 required)

  • A putative class action complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on January 2, 2022 against S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., the maker of Ziploc® storage bags.  The plaintiff alleges that consumers understand certain “technology” claims regarding “unbeatable” food protection and preservation on the front labels of various Ziploc® products to mean that the plastic storage bags have advanced qualities which allow unique benefits but are false and misleading because other products provide similar food protection.
  • The complaint involves two claims, “Power Shield Technology – Unbeatable Protection” and “Grip’n Seal Technology – Unbeatable Freshness,” which appear prominently on the front packaging, along with pictures of strawberries in slider bags and seal top bags, respectively.  Packages bearing the protection claim also contain the words STRONGER* THAN HEFTY” in smaller, bold red font and “ON PUNCTURES & TEARS” in smaller black text, in the upper right corner of the package.  The complaint characterizes the “stronger” wording as a separate claim, rather than a qualifying statement, alleging that the product is purported to offer superior protection that is not limited to resistance against punctures or tears.  Regarding the “freshness” claim, the complaint alleges that a moisture loss test involving sliced bread is not relevant and/or is of limited applicability to consumer usage of the products with various foods having a range of spoilage criteria and that Ziploc® bags in any event are not superior to competitor products with respect to moisture loss.
  • Plaintiffs have not provided any extrinsic evidence of consumer deception (e.g., market studies) to demonstrate that “unbeatable protection” or “unbeatable freshness” are reasonably interpreted as described in the complaint.  Keller and Heckman will continue to monitor and report on the outcome of the Ziploc® lawsuit as well as other labeling claim challenges, if any, to other food-related consumer products.