Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Hormel

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Hormel

Public Justice, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Richman Law Group filed a joint lawsuit in the District of Columbia Superior Court against Hormel Foods, alleging the company was misleading consumers through the advertising of its Natural Choice® brand of lunch meats and bacon. The suit resulted in a settlement that satisfied both parties. Explore documents made public through the suit in our Hormel Deep Dive and read more about the case in Reuters.

Contrary to Hormel’s branding campaign, the suit alleged, meats that the company advertised as “natural” actually came from animals raised in factory farms that employ additives, hormones and antibiotics, and contain ingredients that constitute artificial preservatives – and in fact, were the same animals raised in the same conditions as those used for products like Spam. With the slogan “Make the Natural Choice®” and repeated claims that its Natural Choice® products were “100% Natural” and “All-Natural,” Hormel Foods ran a wide-ranging advertising campaign that took advantage of consumers’ beliefs that “natural” meat came from animals raised in a specific, sustainable way. According to a 2015 Consumer Reports survey, half of consumers believed the “natural” designation meant animals were raised outdoors. Hormel’s Natural Choice® products, in contrast, were not from more humane or more natural farms, but came from the same industrialized factory farms as any of Hormel’s other products.

The case went to the D.C. Court of Appeals, the highest court in the district, and established for the first time that consumer-oriented non-profits have standing to protect consumers under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act. Following remand, the parties reached a settlement.

Trial Briefs

Appellate Briefs

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