A Sunshine Coast company is being sued in the Queensland Supreme Court for $10 million over a “dairy-free” product linked to an anaphylaxis death in England five years ago.
Woombye coconut yoghurt producer COYO granted an exclusive licence to UK manufacturer Planet Coconut for 10 years in 2014.
A 42-year-old woman died in 2017 after eating what she believed was a dairy-free wrap from a sandwich store in Bath. The wrap had contained coconut yoghurt, made by Planet Coconut, which was later found to contain milk protein.
Planet Coconut is suing COYO for $10 million in damages for misleading or deceptive conduct, and breach of contract. It alleges a yoghurt stabiliser was the source of the contamination, and there was an implied term in its licensing agreement with COYO that the stabiliser would be dairy free.
COYO argues that any implied term would not necessarily mean the products were completely dairy free, saying that the term “dairy free” had no fixed or established meaning in the industry and a product could be marketed as “dairy free” even if it contained trace amounts of dairy.
COYO has also filed a counterclaim alleging Planet Coconut has breached its licensing agreement, but COYO has yet to enter an amount for damages.
The case continues.