Leeman v. Farmer Bros. Co.

Posted: 08/15/2013  browse the case archive

Whistleblower Whitney Leeman, Ph.D., resolved her allegations against the defendant Farmer Bros. Co. (“Farmer Bros”) in the enforcement action Leeman v. Farmer Bros. Co., when the parties executed a Consent Judgment on August 15, 2013.  In this matter, Leeman alleged that Farmer Bros. sold food extracts, flavors, and colorings containing 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) in the State of California without providing the requisite health hazard warnings. 

As part of the settlement, Farmer Bros. agreed not to sell the covered product in California after September 1, 2013, unless the product contains no detectable 4-MEI, which is defined as containing no more than one part per million of 4-MEI in any accessible component when analyzed using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency testing methodology 8321A.  Should Farmer Bros. provide written certification by December 15, 2013, and continuing into the future, that all of the covered product sold in California qualifies as reformulated, Leeman agreed to waive a portion of the civil fine that would otherwise be applied. 

The Consent Judgment requires a total settlement payment of $73,000, divided therein between civil penalties, 75% of which are paid to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and compensation to citizen enforcer Leeman and her counsel for their successful enforcement of this matter in the public interest.

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