Dairy consumers who sued several national chains and the largest U.S. provider of store-brand organic milk claiming they falsely labeled the milk can continue with their lawsuit under a federal appeals court ruling issued Wednesday.
The ruling from the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means a lower court must hear claims that Aurora Organic Dairy's milk was deceptively marketed as coming from small farms with open pastures.
"Each defendant is alleged to have misrepresented the manner in which the dairy cows were raised and fed in violation of various state deceptive trade practices laws," the ruling said.
The lawsuits against Aurora and retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Wild Oats Markets Inc., Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. also claimed Aurora's milk should not be called organic.
But the court blocked that claim because the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn't withdrawn Aurora's organic certification.
Aurora, based in Boulder, Colo., and the USDA reached an agreement in 2007 that included changes in Aurora's operations and that allowed the company to retain its organic certification.