Tuesday, April 30, 2013

When is Food Unfit For Its "Ordinary Purpose?"

The UCC says that every sale by a merchant includes the implied warranty of merchantability. "Merchantability," among other requirements, means that the goods are fit for the ordinary purpose for which such goods are intended. When the goods are food, that means that the warranty requires that the food be fit for human consumption. Typically, when the food contains foreign objects, like broken glass, or human fingers, the case is pretty clear that the warranty is breached.  However, what should be the test applied to determine if the warranty is breached when the food contains a natural, yet inedible object; i.e. beef bone in a hamburger, or a cherry pit in cherry nut ice cream. The emerging legal test seems to no longer turn on a foreign/natural object tests.  Instead the test is, "What is the reasonable expectation of the consumer?"

Needless to say, this consumer did not expect what she found in her green beans:

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