By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 20 A U.S. appeals court on
Thursday revived a lawsuit against ConAgra Foods Inc
over the amount of sodium the company discloses on sunflower
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found
that federal law does not preempt claims that the sodium content
of edible coating on sunflower seed shells must be disclosed in
the nutritional labeling.
The case is one of a growing number of lawsuits against food
manufacturers over their marketing practices.
"We don't comment on pending litigation, and we stand behind
the accuracy of our labeling and the quality of our products,"
ConAgra said in an emailed statement.
Lawyers for a purchaser of ConAgra's David Sunflower Seeds
filed the proposed class-action lawsuit in a Los Angeles federal
court. They claimed the nutritional information misrepresents
the sodium content of the seeds by focusing exclusively on the
kernels, according to court documents.
However, since consumers place the entire seed in their
mouths before eating the kernel and spitting out the shell,
ConAgra should disclose the sodium in both, the 2012 lawsuit
A lower court judge dismissed the lawsuit, but a three-judge
9th Circuit panel ruled 2-1 on Thursday that the shell coatings
are intended to be ingested.
"Indeed, these coatings come in flavors such as 'Ranch' and
'Nacho Cheese' precisely because they are to be consumed before
the shell is discarded," 9th Circuit Judge Barry Silverman
An attorney for the plaintiff could not immediately be
reached for comment.
The case in the 9th Circuit is Lilly vs. ConAgra Foods,