Naperville Business Attorney Discusses FDA’s Accusations of Mislabeled Parmesan Cheese

Naperville business law attorney accusation FDA cheeseWhen you are accused of any type of deception or wrongdoing as it relates to your business or business practices, the impact to your reputation and bottom line can be quite serious. In my practice, I have served as general counsel for many companies facing similar difficulties and understand the challenges such an accusation can bring. A recent example has been grabbing headlines across the country, as it involves the quality of certain types of food making their way to grocery store shelves.

Surprise Visit from Regulators

In late 2012, representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, without warning, dropped in on a cheese-making plant north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The agency was reportedly acting on a tip that it had received regarding the company’s use of fillers and lower quality cheeses in products purporting to be high-end grated Parmesan Regulators found that “no Parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” products sold by the company as 100% Parmesan. These products were distributed under various brands, and sold in stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and other retail outlets. Instead of Parmesan cheese, the products were found to contain a mix of mozzarella, Swiss, white cheddar, and cellulose, all of which combined to make a less-expensive alternative to real Parmesan, but was still sold as such.

This particular investigation by the FDA also marks a bit of a change for the regulating agency, as it has been hesitant in the past to go much beyond food safety. In the cheese case, however, the company’s lack of compliance led to criminal charges against the cheesemaker’s president, who is expected to plead guilty later this month and may serve up to a year in prison and be required to pay $100,000 in fines. For its part, the company stopped production of the cheeses in question following the FDA’s report, dumped existing inventories, and eventually declared bankruptcy in 2014.

Protecting Your Company 

While your company may never be forced to deal with allegations quite as serious as those leveled by the FDA in this example, even relatively minor accusations can be problematic. A factual claim by an unsatisfied customer may require some personal attention and damage control, to a certain extent, but an allegation regarding your company or your products made by a regulatory body or a competitor may need additional action.

When such a claim is made against you, it is important to rely on the sound legal advice of an experienced Naperville business law attorney. Our skilled team is ready to provide general legal counsel services for your company. We can help you explore your options for defending your products and sevices, which may include taking aggressive legal action in certain situations. Call 630-756-1160 to learn more about how The Gierach Law Firm can help you protect your enterprise.