Federal appeals smears arguments against makers of butter substitutePosted On: Apr. 20, 2023 11:20 AM CST
It’s hard to believe what people sue over these days.
Two women filed a lawsuit against Unilever United States Inc., the company behind the butter-flavored zero-calorie, zero-fat vegetable oil concoction I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Spray, arguing the product’s label makes misrepresentations about fat and calorie content based on artificially low serving sizes, and argued that the product should be considered a type of “butter” and not a “spray.”
A federal district court dismissed the suit, finding that plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that Butter! Spray was not a “spray type” fat or oil under Food and Drug Administration regulations, among other arguments.
As relayed in a Tuesday ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the “FDA has devised elaborate rules for appropriate food serving sizes” and that “under the specific regulations governing butter and related products, the Butter! Spray falls into two possible subcategories: ‘spray types’ and ‘butter, margarine, oil, shortening.’”
That ruling goes on to say “that as a matter of legal classification, Butter! Spray was a ‘spray.’ In common parlance, a ‘spray’ refers to liquid dispensed in the form of droplets, emitted from a mechanism that allows the product to be applied in that manner. In addition, the notion that Butter! Spray could be housed under the FDA’s legal classification for ‘butter’ is implausible.”
In affirming, the appeals court held that “information on the product’s label complies with federal food labeling requirements for ‘spray type’ fats and oils. The product is a spray under federal regulations, and it was labeled accordingly.”