Ornua to vigorously defend against Kerrygold claims in US
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.