In the wake of new federal limits on the use of trans fat in foods, a California man filed a federal lawsuit against H.J. Heinz Co. over the use of partially hydrogenated oils in frozen potato products.
Reports indicated that the lawsuit — filed by Troy Backus — alleged that Ore-Ida Easy Fries and Easy Tater Tots contained "dangerous levels" of trans fat despite labels indicating that they did not contain any.
Federal law allows food labels to round down to zero if a product contains less than 0.5 grams of an ingredient per serving, but the lawsuit alleged that those claims are false.
Observers warned that recent lawsuits could be the first of many after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered the food industry to largely phase out trans fat within three years.
The FDA decision revoked trans fat's status of "generally recognized as safe," which attorneys said could open the door to class-action lawsuits against food companies that used PHOs for decades.
“Litigation is not looming, it is a reality,” one attorney told Politico.
Industry groups largely expressed support for the proposal and noted sweeping reductions in the use of PHOs in recent years.
Health advocates, meanwhile, said the rule was overdue and could prevent thousands of deaths and hospitalizations related to heart disease.