CA court: consumers can sue over falsely labeling as organic

California’s Supreme Court last week ruled that the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) does not preempt private citizens in California from filing lawsuits based on state false advertising laws alleging that a food product was falsely labeled as organic. The Court held that OFPA preempts only matters relating to certifying production as organic, not matters of enforcement against abuse of the organic label. The ruling overturns lower court decisions that only the federal government can enforce organic labeling laws based on OFPA, which in 1990 displaced state standards and established the National Organic Program. OTA is very concerned about this precedent, which misunderstands the extent of OFPA’s preemption, and allows complaints outside of the enforcement process established by OFPA and its regulations. Reach out to Marni Karlin, OTA’s General Counsel, if you have any questions or comments to share as we continue to consider if and how to weigh in.

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