Court, Justices Confer Over Salmon Labeling Rule


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 7, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court asked the Justice Department on Monday for advice on a bid by the nation's largest supermarket chains to block customers from suing over violations of federal and state food-labeling rules, Bloomberg News reports.

Supervalu, Safeway and Kroger are among the retailers contending that only government regulators, not consumers, can enforce federal and state labeling laws. The companies are trying to stop a suit accusing them of failing to properly label farmed salmon. Under a U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule, salmon and trout fed fish feed with astaxanthin or canthaxanthin are considered to contain added color and are required to be labeled as such.

Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court allowed the suit to move forward. In their appeal, the retailers argued that the ruling was "an open invitation to private plaintiffs nationwide to bring class actions."

The high court's request, directed to U.S. Solicitor Gen. Gregory Garre, signals that the justices may add the case to their 2008-09 docket.

The central question for the court in the new case is whether the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which governs food labeling at the federal level, bars private efforts to enforce similar state laws.

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