United States v. Ninety-Five Barrels Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar

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United States v. Ninety-Five Barrels Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued April 10–11, 1924
Decided June 2, 1924
Full case nameUnited States v. Ninety-Five Barrels, More or Less, Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar
Citations265 U.S. 438 (more)
44 S. Ct. 529; 68 L. Ed. 1094; 1924 U.S. LEXIS 2623
Case history
PriorDistrict Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, granted summary judgment to the state; Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, 289 Fed. 181; cert. granted, 263 U.S. 695
A label for "Apple Cider Vinegar Made from Selected Apples" is misleading when that vinegar is made from dried apples, and the vinegar is therefore misbranded under the Food and Drugs Act.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William H. Taft
Associate Justices
Joseph McKenna · Oliver W. Holmes Jr.
Willis Van Devanter · James C. McReynolds
Louis Brandeis · George Sutherland
Pierce Butler · Edward T. Sanford
Case opinion
MajorityButler, joined by unanimous court
Laws applied
Food and Drugs Act June 30, 1906, c. 3915, 34 Stat. 768. (Comp. St. 8717 et seq.)

United States v. Ninety-Five Barrels Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar, 265 U.S. 438 (1924),[1] was an in rem case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that apple cider vinegar is mislabeled when that vinegar is made from dried apples. The label at issue indicated that the vinegar was made from "selected" apples. Douglas Packing Company, the manufacturer, admitted to dehydrating fresh apples and then re-hydrating the apples with pure water to produce vinegar.

Additional chemicals were used in the manufacturing process for vinegar made from dried apples, but neither party alleged that this affected the vinegar. Other than this and the difference in apples, the manufacturing process was the same. The trial judge, who tried samples of the vinegar at issue and apple cider vinegar made from fresh apples, concluded that there were only slight differences in appearance and taste. Chemical comparison yielded similar results for both liquids.

There was no claim that vinegar from dried apples was of inferior quality. However, the court found first that the dried apple vinegar was not identical to vinegar as commonly understood—that produced from fresh ingredients. Second, fresh apples contain the apple juice that is normally used in the production of apple cider vinegar, whereas Douglas Packing used water as a substitute ingredient. Finally, the court found that "made from selected apples" misled the reader into thinking that the apples were fresh instead of dried. These three issues—an imitation under the same name, false or misleading ingredient listing, and misleading labelling—were all a part of the Pure Food and Drug Act section defining "misbranded". For this reason, the Supreme Court found that the apple cider was misbranded under the statute.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ United States v. Ninety-Five Barrels Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar, 265 U.S. 438 (1924).

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