P&G set to change Olay packaging after settling slack fill lawsuit

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

P&G set to change Olay packaging after settling slack fill lawsuit

Related tags Pleading

Procter & Gamble says it will change the packaging design for its Olay Skin care products in the US after a lawsuit resulted in the company paying $850,000 in civil liberty and legal costs.

The legal action was filed in Yolo County Superior Court, California, outlining that consumers of Olay skincare products were being misled by slack fill that could not be detected unless the packaging was taken apart.

“The civil complaint alleged that P&G’s packaging violated California’s slack fill law, (which covers) the use of oversized packaging to make the product seem larger than it actually is,”​ stated Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin.

“After being advised of the allegations, P&G launched a review of its products and has committed to changing the packaging of its entire Olay product line.”

The low-down on the all-important California law

Angela Diesch, senior council at Kronick, Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard, explained back in October last year, that California law pertaining to slack-fill are in evidence to determine the difference between the actual capacity of the container and the volume of product it contains.

“While some slack fill is permissible, non-functional slack fill is not,”​ said Diesch.

“The problem for companies arises in the subjective manner in which enforcement and evaluation of non-functional slack fill occurs. For example, I have seen District Attorneys claim that the space taken up by the thick walls of a glass container or the space occupied up by the components of an airless pump constitutes impermissible nonfunctional slack fill. In other words, the space in the bottle or packaging not actually occupied by the cream.”

Slack fill lawsuits in New York

Slack fill has been hitting the headlines, as consumer lobby groups have continued to target the big cosmetic and personal care players over packaging that they claim is deceptive and misleading to consumers who may believe that such containers contain more formulation.

Similar lawsuits were filed last October when both Unilever and P&G were slapped with allegations that deodorant packaging was over-stepping the slack fill mark; those suits came from two separate plaintiffs that filed in New York City.

The first class action complaint was filed against Procter & Gamble in September and claimed to be an action against deceptive and otherwise improper business practice.

Deodorant stick lost in packaging

The action targets the Gillette Odor Shield Invisible Solid, Old Spice High Endurance Invisible Solid and Old Spice Classic antiperspirants and deodorants, specifying all the different packaging sizes and fragrances available in each line.

The action against Unilever was also filed in New York in September and specifies the Degree Dry Protection and Axe Gold Temptation antiperspirants and deodorants, while also stipulating the packaging sizes and fragrances.

Both actions suggested that the slack fill was approximately 3 inches, in containers that were no more than six inches in height.

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