Amici Curiae: The Nutella Shocker, Airport Security, and Sled Dog Edition

Nutella – Delicious and Not Healthy?

A California woman is bringing a class action lawsuit against Nutella, alleging that Ferraro USA Inc., the maker of Nutella, “falsely and misleadingly markets Nutella as healthful” even though it “contains 70% saturated fat and processed sugar by weight”. The plaintiff also claims that she was “shocked” to learn that Nutella was not a healthy food. The lawsuit claims unfair competition, false advertising, breach of warranty, and violation of California Consumers Legal Remedies Act.

The plaintiff demands that Ferrero stop its misleading advertisements, conduct a corrective advertising campaign, and pay restitution to restore all funds unjustly acquired from the sale of Nutella through acts of unlawful, unfair and/or fraudulent competition.

As reported in the WSJ, Elise Titan, a spokeswoman for Ferrero USA, said the company “stand[s] behind the quality and ingredients of Nutella hazelnut spread and the advertising of our product.”

This is not the first time Nutella got into trouble for misleading advertisements. In 2008, the UK Advertising Standards Authority also banned its commercial for misrepresenting its health benefits. However, similar regulator in the United States, like the Federal Trade Commission, has not restricted this commercial.

Lawyers’ Pre-Trial Maneuvering

Lawyers for Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of Galleon Group, asked the court to order prospective jurors to fill out a 16-page questionnaire before his trial next month to make sure the jurors are not biased towards Wall Street executives.

To justify this selection process, Rajaratnam’s lawyers wrote that “this case will be the largest insider trading case ever brought in New York, and it comes on the heels of a recession that was sparked by what many perceive to be abuses on Wall Street……Many potential jurors may have been adversely affected by the recession and financial crisis by the loss of jobs and the reduction in value of their retirement plans. It is likely that many have deeply held views regarding the activities of financial executives who are engaged in the stock market on a daily basis.”

The form asks detailed questions, including ones about education, marital status, reading habits, and whether Wall Street Executives are greedy. It is not clear how they would evaluate the answers to choose the most “appropriate” jurors to render a fair verdict.

Scissors are Allowed Through Canadian Airport Security

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has been shifting its regulations on acceptable carry-on items. Most recently, it favoured regulations that would ease traveler convenience—to allow travellers to carry small scissors and tools that are shorter than six centimetres on board.

This new change is expected to increase passenger screening time by 30%. Chuck Strahal, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities said at a press conference on Thursday: “The ultimate purpose is to achieve the best balance of aviation security and passenger convenience and I believe we’ve made strides towards achieving that goal.”

Government Comes Down Hard on CRTC

The Conservative government has demanded that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission reverse its recent decision to end unlimited Internet access plans offered by small Internet providers, or the government will intervene legislatively.

As the argument goes, allowing small businesses to have preferential rates acts as a competitive check on large providers like Bell and Rogers, helping to keep prices from rising. While large providers argue that use-based billing is both fair and good in so far as it encourages efficient use of the internet, the government and consumers alike have remained steadfastly opposed to the change in light of the anticipated negative ramification for consumers.

Given the killing companies like Bell and Rogers are generally making when it comes to cellular rates and the like, we find ourselves unmoved by their cries for ‘fairness.’

Sled Dog Travesty

In what can only be described as a disgusting display of inhumanity, news broke this week of British Columbia sled dog tour operator Howling Dog Tour’s “culling” of roughly one hundred sled dogs after experiencing a dip in business following the Olympic games. The dogs were rounded up, shot or stabbed, and left in a mass grave.

Justifiably, the event has drawn shock and outrage from animals rights groups, the B.C. government and the public at large. The B.C. legislature has ordered a task force headed by Liberal MLA Terry Lake to investigate the killings.

As if it were some kind of defence, the company has stated that the dogs were old and sick. The blatant lack of respect shown towards animals in cases like this is inexplicable, and especially so considering that the company profited from the dogs’ hard work until they was no longer lucrative. One can only hope this event serves as a rallying cry for the creation and enforcement of stronger animal rights protections and services in Canada.

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