Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Judge Rules Out Class Action in McDonald's Suit

The law is for people with long memories. Most of you probably don't remember a post I made three full years ago, Dairy Derivatives in McDonald's Fries.

To remind you, here's the beginning of that post.

McDonald's has always claimed that it had no dairy in its fries. Good.

McDonald's has decided to disclose the presence of common allergens in its foods in response to the new labeling laws even though it doesn't legally have to. Good.

Oops. It turns out that they've slapped a milk label on those dairy-free fries. Bad.

Here's the story as it is being reported by the Associated Press.

McDonald’s director of global nutrition, Cathy Kapica, said its potato suppliers remove all wheat and dairy proteins, such as gluten, which can cause allergic reactions. But the flavoring agent in the cooking oil is a derivative of wheat and dairy ingredients, and the company decided to note their presence because of the FDA’s stipulation that potential allergens be disclosed.

It took all of three days for the first lawsuit to be filed.
McDonald's Sued Over Fries Announcement.

In that one I said:
No doubt some federal judge will put these into a class-action lawsuit somewhere down the line. At that time we'll find out a lot more info about what was in those fries and whether they ever held any danger for the milk allergic.

Since then the various people suing McDonald's did try to get a class action going against the company. But they didn't success. Today U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo called the proposed class "too broad" and "unmanageable."

The story, as reported by Bridgett Freeland of the Courthouse News Service, said that:
The putative class claimed that McDonald's failed to properly list allergen information for its french fries and hash browns until February 2006, when it adjusted the nutritional facts to reflect that the products were partially fried by the supplier in an oil containing small amounts of wheat bran and casein. McDonald's had previously stated that the products were gluten- and dairy-free.

Judge Bucklo wrote that the proposed class was "over-inclusive:" anyone who purchased the fried potatoes from McDonald's between Feb. 27, 2002 and Feb. 7, 2006, and who had been diagnosed with "celiac disease, galactosemia, autism and/or wheat, gluten or dairy allergies," regardless of whether they bought the products in the belief that they were allergen-free.

Bucklo wrote that there appears to be no physical harm caused by the consumption of these products among the named plaintiffs, and that if there is such evidence, delving into such proof would be far too time-consuming for such nominally priced items.

I'm assuming that individual suits can continue, but if there is no proof of physical harm then they have a greatly diminished chance.

In the meantime McDonald's has greatly improved its nutrition labeling. This is what it now gives for French Fries.
Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*), citric acid (preservative), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness), dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent). *
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK (Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).

You can search for labeling of individual foods at their Nutrition Info page.

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