Fifth Circuit: FDCA doesn’t preempt mislabeled cupcake claim

In 2018, C.S., a seven-year old with various food allergies, attended a family friend’s birthday party. The friend’s parent had purchased a cupcake at Whole Foods that had been labeled “vegan.” But that cupcake was not actually vegan, C.S.’s parents now allege, and C.S. suffered an allergic reaction, which has now led to “a number of psychological challenges relating to social relations and consumption food.” C.S.’s parents thus sued Whole Foods over the mislabeled cupcake.

The district court agreed with Whole Foods that plaintiffs’ claims were impliedly preempted by the FDCA. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed. Citing Riegel v. Medtronic and Fifth Circuit precedent, the court held that the plaintiffs’ claims could proceed based on the complaint because they (1) did not add to federal labeling requirements and (2) were based not on violations of the FDCA, but independent state-law duties.



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