Feta Maker Puts Greek Font Labeling Suit Out To Pasture (Law360 Subscription Required)

  • A federal judge in New York dismissed a class action lawsuit alleging that a feta cheese package would deceive a reasonable consumer into believing the product had been made in Greece. We commented on this lawsuit when it was filed in August 2022, noting that the plaintiff’s success could depend on whether the package explicitly used the country name.
  • The lawsuit, filed against Lactalis America Group Inc. on August 14, 2022, claimed that the labeling of the company’s President brand feta cheese falsely led consumers to believe that the product is made in Greece based on:
    • Representation that the company is “Europe’s leading cheese expert;”
    • The depiction of a gold olive branch; and
    • The word “feta” stylized in an “ancient-Greek font.”
  • In addition, the back label of the package states the cheese was “created by a family of artisan cheesemakers with over 80 years of French heritage” and “distributed in ‘Buffalo, NY.’”
  • According to the judge, these facts are insufficient to state a claim that consumers would have been misled into believing the product is made in Greece. He stated in his opinion that “while a discerning shopper may associate feta cheese with Greek tradition, it is unreasonable to conclude that reasonable consumers would expect that a mass-produce cheese product was made in Greece based on little more than a font style, and in the absence of any statement that the product was made in Greece.” He also noted that without a statement that the product is made in Greece, “no reasonable consumer” would view the statement that the product is distributed in “Buffalo, NY” and referencing “French heritage” and automatically conclude that the product is made in Greece.
  • The judge further dismissed the plaintiff’s remaining claims of unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and violations of express warranty, implied warranty, and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act for failure to state a claim, as well as a multistate misrepresentation claim due to lack of standing.