Three consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that Arizona Beverage Co.’s teas, energy drinks and fruit juices are misleadingly marketed as containing “no preservatives” despite containing citric and ascorbic acids. Kubilius v. Arizona Beverage Co., No. 18-9075 (S.D.N.Y., filed October 3, 2018). The plaintiffs assert that they paid a premium for the products believing them to be preservative-free but later discovered that the products contain citric and ascorbic acid, which allegedly “serve as preservatives by functioning as sequestrants, removing compounds and elements from their environment so as to slow the degradation of food and beverages.” The complaint also cites a declaration from a food scientist who asserts that “while citric acid and ascorbic acid can also be employed by a manufacturer that intends to impart taste, a greater quantity of these substances is required to impart taste than to preserve foods and beverages. … Even if imparting taste…
A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Barilla America Inc. misleads consumers because its pasta sauces, which are labeled as including "No Preservatives," contain citric acid. Kubilius v. Barilla Am. Inc., No. 18-6656 (N.D. Ill., E. Div., filed October 1, 2018). The complaint contends that several authorities identify citric acid as a preservative, including "insiders in the preservative manufacturing and distribution industries" and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which allegedly "expressly classifies citric acid as a preservative in its Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives, and Colors." The plaintiff seeks class certification, damages, restitution, injunctions and attorney's fees for allegations of fraud and violations of New York and Illinois consumer-protection statutes.
Diamond Foods LLC faces a putative class action alleging Kettle Foods potato chips are marketed as “Made with Natural Ingredients” and “No Preservatives” but contain citric acid. Mason v. Diamond Foods LLC, No. 18-6423 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 16, 2018). The complaint identifies several flavors of chips that allegedly contain the “synthetic compound,” purportedly produced from mold strains and sulfuric acid. Claiming violations of several states' consumer-protection statutes, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, breach of warranties and common law fraud, the plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, damages and attorney’s fees.
A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging PVK Inc. mislabels Scarpetta pasta sauces as containing “No Preservatives” despite including citric acid on the ingredient list. Jocelyn v. PVK Inc., No. 18-427 (E.D.N.Y., filed January 22, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that she relied on the representation on the container and would not have purchased the sauce had she known it contained preservatives. Claiming deceptive and unfair trade practices, false advertising and common-law fraud, the plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, restitution, disgorgement, damages, corrective advertising and attorney’s fees.
A Pennsylvania federal court has dismissed without prejudice a consumer lawsuit alleging Herr Foods Inc. labels its snack products as free from added preservatives despite containing citric acid. Hu v. Herr Foods, Inc., No. 165037 (E.D. Pa., order entered April 24, 2017). Additional information on the complaint appears in Issue 609 of this Update. Herr moved for a judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the citric acid in its products was not serving as a preservative. The court dismissed the claim for unjust enrichment but granted leave to amend claims for alleged violations of New York laws governing deceptive acts and practices, noting that the deficiency “is a lack of allegations supporting plaintiff’s conclusory statement that citric acid functions as a preservative in the products, which plaintiff could remedy by pleading appropriate supporting facts.” Issue 632
An Oregon plaintiff has filed a putative class action against the makers of Cascade Ice Coconut Water alleging the product contains no coconut. Silva v. Unique Beverage Co., LLC, No. 17-0391 (D. Or., filed March 9, 2017). The complaint alleges that “[d]espite the large colorful coconuts and the word 'Coconut' that defendant puts on the front of its label, defendant’s product actually contains no coconut water, no coconut juice, no coconut pulp, no coconut jelly.” The plaintiff also claims that consumers buy coconut water for its “special health qualities,” making its sales a “billion-dollar industry.” Washington-based Cascade Ice’s label lists the primary ingredients of the coconut water product as carbonated water, strawberry puree, citric acid, pear juice concentrate and “natural flavors.” For violations of the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act, the plaintiff seeks equitable and injunctive relief, actual, statutory and punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Issue 628
A consumer has filed a projected class action alleging Newman’s Own, Inc. misleadingly markets its pasta sauce products as natural despite containing citric acid. Wong v. Newman’s Own, Inc., No. 16-6690 (E.D.N.Y., filed November 30, 2016). The complaint asserts the company “deceptively used the term ‘natural’ to describe a product containing ingredients that have been either extensively chemically processed or fundamentally altered from their natural state and thus cannot be considered ‘minimally processed.’” The plaintiff admits “there is not an exacting definition of ‘natural’ in reference to food,” but cites the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a decision from the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2005 Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book to support his definition. For alleged violations of New York’s consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiff seeks class certification, restitution, damages, an injunction and attorney’s fees. Issue 625
A consumer has filed a purported class action against PepsiCo and subsidiary Izze Beverage Co. alleging Izze carbonated juice drinks are misleadingly marketed as containing “no preservatives” despite the presence of citric or ascorbic acid. Lindberg v. PepsiCo Inc., No. 16-6569 (S.D.N.Y., filed August 19, 2016). The complaint also challenges Izze’s claim that each bottle “delivers two servings of fruit based on [U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s)] 2010 Dietary Guidelines,” which is misleading because “the USDA did away with this measure of servings in its 2010 Guidelines precisely because it misleads consumers about how much of various food groups they should eat or drink.” The plaintiff asserts the dietary guidelines claim is also misleading because it “falsely suggests that Izze Sodas contain the nutritional value and health benefits that can be obtained by eating fruit. Whole fruit contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Even if Izze Sodas were originally manufactured with…
A consumer has filed a projected class action against Drew’s LLC, maker of Drew’s salad dressings and marinades, alleging the company misrepresents its products as “all natural” because they contain xanthan gum, disodium phosphate, lactic acid and citric acid. Haack v. Drew’s LLC, No. 16-6022 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 28, 2016). The complaint cites draft guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture distinguishing natural and synthetic ingredients and guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to support the argument that a reasonable consumer would be confused by the company’s use of “natural” on its packaging. “Consumers lack the meaningful ability to test or independently ascertain or verify whether a product is natural, especially at the point of sale,” the plaintiff asserts. “Consumers would not know the true Nature of the ingredients merely by reading the ingredients label.” For alleged fraud and violations of New York and other state consumer-protection laws,…
A consumer has filed a putative class action against Herr Foods Inc., maker of potato chips, popcorn and cheese curls products, alleging the company mislabels its foods as preservative-free despite containing citric acid. Hu v. Herr Foods Inc., No. 16-3313 (E.D.N.Y., filed June 20, 2016). The complaint alleges Herr seeks “to capitalize on consumers’ preference for natural products and the association between such products and a wholesome way of life” by labeling the products as free of preservatives, but the products contain citric acid, “a non-natural, chemically processed ingredient and preservative.” For allegations of misrepresentation, breach of warranties and unjust enrichment as well as violations of New York consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiff seeks class certification, restitution, damages, an injunction and attorney’s fees. Issue 609