Corn Products Refining Co v. Eddy, No. 119

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPITNEY
Citation249 U.S. 427,39 S.Ct. 325,63 L.Ed. 689
Docket NumberNo. 119
Decision Date14 April 1919
PartiesCORN PRODUCTS REFINING CO. v. EDDY et al

249 U.S. 427
39 S.Ct. 325
63 L.Ed. 689
CORN PRODUCTS REFINING CO.

v.

EDDY et al.

No. 119.
Argued Jan. 14, 1919.
Decided April 14, 1919.

Page 428

Messrs. T. M. Lillard, of Topeka, Kan., and C. A. Magaw, of Omaha, Neb., for plaintiff in error.

Mr. J. L. Hunt, of Topeka, Kan., for defendants in error.

Mr. Justice PITNEY delivered the opinion of the Court.

Plaintiff in error (plaintiff in the original action) is a corporation which manufactures in the state of Illinois a proprietary table syrup composed of 85 per cent. corn syrup or glucose, 10 per cent. molasses, and 5 per cent. sorghum, and sells it under the name of 'Mary Jane' in cans labeled as follows:

'5 Pounds Net Weight.

'Mary Jane.

'Reg. U. S. Pat. Off.

Page 429

'Mary Jane is guaranteed by Corn Products Refining Co. to comply with the Food and Drugs Act, June 30, 1906. Registered under serial number 2317.

'Mary Jane. A Table Syrup Prepared from Corn Syrup, Molasses and Pure Country Sorghum. Contains Sulphur Dioxide.

'M'f'd by Corn Products Refining Co.

'General Offices—New York, U. S. A.'

Prior to the beginning of the action plaintiff had agents and representatives employed in soliciting orders for this syrup from wholesale merchants in the state of Kansas; the orders being filled by shipping the required quantity of the syrup in interstate commerce in the original sealed cans with original labels attached. Defendants, who are the members of the state board of health of Kansas, deeming 'Mary Jane' to be misbranded in several particulars within the meaning of the Food and Drugs Law of that state (chapter 266, Sess. Laws, Kan. 1907, as amended by chapter 184, Laws 1909, embodied in chapter 35, Gen. Stat. Kan. 1909; chapter 32, Gen. Stat. Kan. 1915), and regulations adopted by the board under authority of that law, notified plaintiff's agents and representatives and other persons selling and dealing in 'Mary Jane' syrup that, unless plaintiff complied with regulation 6 of the state board by attaching in a conspicuous place on the outside of each can sold or offered for sale within the state a label with the word 'compound' printed upon it, and stating definitely the percentage of each ingredient of which the syrup was composed, they would be arrested and prosecuted. Similar warnings were communicated to wholesale and retail dealars who were and long had been selling this syrup in Kansas under the original brand and label.

Plaintiff brought an equitable action against the members of the board of health in one of the district courts of the state, setting up the pertinent facts alleging that defendants were acting under the authority of the state

Page 430

law and certain regulations adopted by them pursuant to it, and among others regulation 6, requiring that in the case of syrups the principal label should state definitely the percentage of each ingredient, in the case of compounds, mixtures, imitations, or blends; plaintiff further averring that the state law and the regulations referred to, particularly regulation 6, were void because in conflict with the interstate commerce clause (article I, § 8) of the Constitution of the United States and the act of Congress of June 30, 1906 (chapter 3915, 34 Stat. 768 [Comp. St. §§ 8717-8728]), and also in conflict with the provisions of section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that defendants were interfering with plaintiff's interstate commerce and with its lawful business in the state of Kansas, thereby threatening plaintiff with great and irreparable damage, and praying for an injunction.

Their general demurrer having been overruled, defendants answered and the case came on for hearing, with the result that the district court made a finding 'that all of the allegations of plaintiff's petition are true,' and adjudged that there should be a perpetual injunction restraining defendants from interfering with the sale of 'Mary Jane' in the state of Kansas upon the ground that it was misbranded when sold under the label above referred to, and in particular from interfering, because of regulation 6, with persons dealing in or selling the syrup, so branded, within the state.

Upon appeal the Supreme Court of Kansas reversed the judgment with direction that the district court enter judgment for the defendants (99 Kan. 63, 163 Pac. 615); and the case comes here on writ of error under section 237, Judicial Code (Act March 3, 1911, c. 231, 36 Stat. 1156 [Comp. St. § 1214]), as amended September 6, 1916 (chapter 448, 39 Stat. 726), upon the contention that the Kansas statute and the regulations adopted by the state board pursuant to it, as interpreted and applied by the state court of last resort, are repugnant to the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States (article I, § 8) and to the due process

Page 431

and equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, and especially are in conflict with the federal Food and Drugs Act.

Upon the argument here, the attack was centered upon the effect of regulation 6, which, so far as pertinent, reads as follows:

'Manufacturers of proprietary foods are required to state upon the label the names and percentages of the materials used, so far as is necessary to secure freedom from adulteration and misbranding: (1) In the case of syrups, the principal label shall state definitely, in conspicuous letters, the percentage of each ingredient, in the case of compounds, mixtures, imitations, or blends. When the name of the syrup includes the name of one or more of the ingredients, the preponderating ingredient shall be named first.'

It will be convenient to deal first with the contention made under the Fourteenth Amendment. It is not seriously insisted that there is a denial of the equal protection of the laws, and we see no ground for such a contention. There is no discrimination against plaintiff in error or its product, or against syrups as a class.

It is, however, urged that since plaintiff's syrup is a proprietary food, made under a secret formula and sold under its own distinctive name, and since it contains no deleterious or injurious ingredients, the effect of the regulation in requiring plaintiff to disclose upon the label the ingredients and their proportions amounts to a taking of its property without due process of law. Evidently the purpose of the requirement is to secure freedom from adulteration and misbranding; the mischief of misbranding being that purchasers may be misled with respect to the wholesomeness or food value of the compound. And it is too plain for argument that a manufacturer or vendor has no constitutional right to sell goods without giving to the purchaser fair information of what it is that is being sold. The right of a manufacturer to maintain

Page 432

secrecy as to his compounds and processes must be held subject to the right of the state, in the exercise of its police power and in promotion of fair dealing, to require that the nature of the product be fairly set forth. Heath & Milligan Co. v. Worst, 207 U. S. 338, 353, 28 Sup. Ct. 114, 52 L. Ed. 236; Savage v. Jones, 225 U. S. 501, 524, 32 Sup. Ct. 715, 56 L. Ed. 1182; Standard Stock Food Co. v. Wright, 225 U. S. 540, 548, 549, 32 Sup. Ct. 784, 56 L. Ed. 1197; Schmidinger v. Chicago, 226 U. S. 578, 588, 33 Sup. Ct. 182, 57 L. Ed. 364, Ann. Cas. 1914B, 284; Armour & Co. v. North Dakota, 240 U. S. 510, 514, 515, 36 Sup. Ct. 440, 60 L. Ed. 771, Ann. Cas. 1916D, 548; Hutchinson Ice Cream Co. v. Iowa, 242 U. S. 153, 159, 37 Sup. Ct. 28, 61 L. Ed. 217, Ann. Cas. 1917B, 643; Hebe Co. v. Shaw, 248 U. S. 297, 303, 39 Sup. Ct. 125.

We turn to the questions raised under the commerce clause and the act of Congress.

Although the Supreme Court in its opinion said nothing about interstate commerce, it cannot be doubted, in the state of the record, that defendants' activities against which relief was sought included incidental interference with plaintiff's interstate commerce in the 'Mary Jane' syrup, and that the general judgment in favor of defendants amounts to an adjudication that the state law and regulations are to be enforced with respect to plaintiff's product indiscriminately, not only when sold and offered for sale in domestic commerce, but also while in the hands of the importing dealers for sale in the original packages, and hence, in...

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47 practice notes
  • Cloverleaf Butter Co v. Patterson, No. 28
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 2, 1942
    ...butter exclude such state action. Cf. Hebe Co. v. Shaw, 248 U.S. 297, 39 S.Ct. 125, 63 L.Ed. 255; Cor Products Refg. Co. v. Eddy, 249 U.S. 427, 39 S.Ct. 325, 63 L.Ed. 689. There was a motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint did not state a cause of action. A stipulation entitled ......
  • Philip Morris, Inc. v. Reilly, No. 00-2425.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • December 2, 2002
    ...that trade secrets generally can be subject to disclosure under certain limited circumstances. See, e.g., Corn Prods. Ref. Co. v. Eddy, 249 U.S. 427, 431-32, 39 S.Ct. 325, 63 L.Ed. 689 (1919) (upholding required disclosure of ingredient lists to prevent consumer fraud) [hereinafter Corn Pro......
  • Pharmaceutical Care Management Ass'n v. Rowe, No. 05-1606.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 8, 2005
    ...right to sell goods without giving to the purchaser fair information of what it is that is being sold." Corn Prods. Ref. Co. v. Eddy, 249 U.S. 427, 431, 39 S.Ct. 325, 63 L.Ed. 689 (1919). PBMs should therefore have expected the possibility that they would have to disclose to their covered e......
  • Grocery Mfrs. of America, Inc. v. Gerace, No. 83 Civ. 8629 (HFW).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 8, 1984
    ...to artificial cheese nor an express preemption provision. In support, the Commissioner relies on Corn Products Refining Co. v. Eddy, 249 U.S. 427, 39 S.Ct. 325, 63 L.Ed. 689 (1919), in which the Supreme Court held that, absent federal action, the state retains its right to provide for adequ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
47 cases
  • Cloverleaf Butter Co v. Patterson, No. 28
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 2, 1942
    ...butter exclude such state action. Cf. Hebe Co. v. Shaw, 248 U.S. 297, 39 S.Ct. 125, 63 L.Ed. 255; Cor Products Refg. Co. v. Eddy, 249 U.S. 427, 39 S.Ct. 325, 63 L.Ed. 689. There was a motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint did not state a cause of action. A stipulation entitled ......
  • Philip Morris, Inc. v. Reilly, No. 00-2425.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • December 2, 2002
    ...that trade secrets generally can be subject to disclosure under certain limited circumstances. See, e.g., Corn Prods. Ref. Co. v. Eddy, 249 U.S. 427, 431-32, 39 S.Ct. 325, 63 L.Ed. 689 (1919) (upholding required disclosure of ingredient lists to prevent consumer fraud) [hereinafter Corn Pro......
  • Pharmaceutical Care Management Ass'n v. Rowe, No. 05-1606.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 8, 2005
    ...right to sell goods without giving to the purchaser fair information of what it is that is being sold." Corn Prods. Ref. Co. v. Eddy, 249 U.S. 427, 431, 39 S.Ct. 325, 63 L.Ed. 689 (1919). PBMs should therefore have expected the possibility that they would have to disclose to their covered e......
  • Grocery Mfrs. of America, Inc. v. Gerace, No. 83 Civ. 8629 (HFW).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 8, 1984
    ...to artificial cheese nor an express preemption provision. In support, the Commissioner relies on Corn Products Refining Co. v. Eddy, 249 U.S. 427, 39 S.Ct. 325, 63 L.Ed. 689 (1919), in which the Supreme Court held that, absent federal action, the state retains its right to provide for adequ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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