Arbitration: coming to store near you?

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The food industry may be catching on to the growing trend of binding arbitration agreements. General Mills recently added a binding arbitration provision to the legal terms on its website, then withdrew the changes a few days later in response to consumer feedback. The desire to curb the rise in food litigation is not surprising. Many food companies are battling consumer class actions challenging the labeling on their food products as false and misleading. The targeted statements include terms such as "all natural," "natural source of antioxidants," and the ingredient name "evaporated cane juice." General Mills' attempt to incorporate binding arbitration into its transactions with consumers may not have stuck this time, but the concerns underlying that attempt are still very present for the food industry. Surely, other efforts to use arbitration clauses to close the class action floodgates will follow.

Originally published in The San Francisco Daily Journal on May 5, 2014.

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