Or­nua to vig­or­ously de­fend against Ker­ry­gold claims in US

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Stephen Cado­gan

Or­nua says its prod­ucts are mar­keted in ac­cor­dance with ap­pli­ca­ble laws and reg­u­la­tions, and they will vig­or­ously de­fend claims which pro­pose oth­er­wise, in re­sponse to a con­sumer fil­ing a pu­ta­tive class ac­tion al­leg­ing Or­nua Foods North Amer­ica mis­lead­ingly mar­keted its Ker­ry­gold but­ter as pro­duced from grass-fed cows.

In the Cal­i­for­nia fed­eral court, the plain­tiff, Dyami My­ers-Tay­lor, claimed Or­nua Co-op­er­a­tive Ltd in Ire­land, and its US sub­sidiary, la­bel and ad­ver­tise the prod­ucts in its Ker­ry­gold but­ter line as made with milk from “grass-fed cows”, when they are ac­tu­ally fed for part of the year with soy, corn and other grains. He as­serts Or­nua charges a premium based on the grass­fed-cows claim, be­cause but­ter pro­duced from grass-fed cows pur­port­edly con­tains higher lev­els of con­ju­gated linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, bu­tyric acid and vi­ta­mins A and K2 than but­ter from grain-fed cows.

Claim­ing vi­o­la­tions of Cal­i­for­nia con­sumer-pro­tec­tion statutes, breach of ex­press war­ranty, fraud and neg­li­gent mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion, the plain­tiff seeks class cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, resti­tu­tion, dam­ages and at­tor­ney’s fees. My­ers-Tay­lor claimed both pack­ag­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing promi­nently fea­ture the claim the milk used to make the but­ter comes from grass-fed cows. “Dur­ing cer­tain times of the year, Ker­ry­gold feeds its cows ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied and other grains, not grass, such that the re­sult­ing prod­ucts are not strictly grass-fed,” he said. My­ers-Tay­lor claimed Or­nua could use al­ter­na­tive feeds, such as an all-hay diet.

He is seek­ing the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of a class con­sist­ing of all Ker­ry­gold con­sumers in the US be­tween June 2014 and the present.

It’s a third high-pro­file US le­gal bat­tle in a year for Or­nua, the for­mer Ir­ish Dairy Board. Ker­ry­gold but­ter was re­moved from all shops in Wis­con­sin be­cause of a law that re­quired that state reg­u­la­tors ap­proved the food safety of but­ter made out­side the US.

But Ker­ry­gold was back in Wis­con­sin stores last De­cem­ber, with Or­nua thank­ing the au­thor­i­ties in Wis­con­sin for their as­sis­tance in the mat­ter. Ear­lier this year, Or­nua Foods North Amer­ica filed a law­suit against Old World Cream­ery for us­ing the name ‘‘Ir­ish­gold’’ as its new brand name for lo­cally pro­duced but­ter.

Fol­low­ing a court rul­ing, Old World Cream­ery must change its trade­mark from ‘‘Ir­ish­gold’’ to ‘‘Euro­gold’’.

Or­nua said at the time the Ker­ry­gold brand is one of the Ir­ish dairy in­dus­try’s most im­por­tant as­sets and Or­nua has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to its mem­bers and stake­hold­ers to take steps nec­es­sary to pro­tect its trade­marks.

A pic­ture on Ker­ry­gold USA’s Twit­ter feed show­ing con­tented cows in Co Tip­per­ary.

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