Trader Joe’s Beats Suit Over Cold-Pressed Juice Processing (Law360 Subscription Required)

  • FDA developed Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations that require treatment of covered juice products due to bacteria that may be present in fresh-squeezed fruits and vegetables.  As we have discussed, FDA’s regulations allow only very limited exemptions from a requirement for a 5-log reduction of the pertinent microorganism that is achieved by pasteurization or other processing.  For example, grocery stores and other retail outlets may sell unpasteurized packaged juice that is made onsite.  Such products must be refrigerated and must carry a warning about harmful bacteria.  FDA has posted What You Need to Know About Juice Safety to educate consumers about packaged juice that has not been treated to ensure its safety. 
  • On December 9, 2022, an Illinois federal judge permanently dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that the grocery store chain, Trader Joe’s, deceived its customers about the freshness of its green juice by claiming “cold-pressed” on the front label and placing the juice in the refrigerated section of the produce department despite the juice having been high-pressure processed.  The judge found that the “cold-pressed” claim is factually accurate, as the juice is in fact cold-pressed before a high-pressure processing step, and that the plaintiff offered only conclusory allegations that other consumers would agree that the “cold-pressed” labeling implies the juice is free of processing or preservation, especially when the product’s side label expressly states that the juice is processed. 
  • In deciding on the motion to dismiss by Trader Joe’s, the court took judicial notice of FDA’s “What You Need to Know…” website and postulated whether reasonable consumers would be aware that most juice is routinely processed to avoid food borne illness.  Regardless of consumer awareness, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s interpretation of the “cold-pressed” claim is contrary to FDA’s guidance on juice manufacturing.