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Plaintiffs in California and New York have filed a putative class action alleging Clif Bar & Co. “omits, intentionally distracts from, and otherwise downplays" the "high added sugar content” of Clif Classic and Clif Kid bars. Milan v. Clif Bar & Co., No. 18-2354 (N.D. Cal., filed April 19, 2018). The complaint asserts that the bars contain high amounts of added sugar—“a chronic liver toxin”—and alleges that excess sugar consumption can lead to several conditions, including metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high triglycerides and hypertension. The plaintiffs allege that Clif “employs a strategic marketing campaign intended to appeal to customers interested in healthful foods in order to increase sales and profits, despite that the high-sugar bars are detrimental to health.” By emphasizing “nutritious” and “organic” ingredients as well as the lack of high-fructose corn syrup and genetically modified organisms, the company allegedly fails to disclose that Clif Classic and…

Kellogg Co. faces a putative class action alleging its Salt & Vinegar Pringles are mislabeled as containing “No Artificial Flavors” because the nutrition label identifies two artificial ingredients. Marotto v. Kellogg Co., No. 18-3545 (S.D.N.Y., filed April 20, 2018). The complaint asserts that although both sodium diacetate and malic acid can occur in nature, the sodium diacetate used in the product is “a synthetic industrial chemical manufactured in a chemical refinery from carbon monoxide and industrial methanol" while the malic acid is “d-1-malic acid . . . manufactured in petrochemical plants from benzene or butane.” Alleging unfair and deceptive business practices, false advertising and misrepresentation, the plaintiff seeks class certification, corrective advertising, damages and attorney’s fees. In March 2018, a federal court in California refused to dismiss a similar lawsuit against Kellogg, finding the plaintiffs had adequately pleaded reasonable customer confusion.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging Trader Joe’s Co.'s two-ingredient fruit bars are deceptively labeled with collective terms such as “apples” on the ingredient list instead of the specific name for an apple-based ingredient. Jamison v. Trader Joe’s Co., No. 18-2216 (E.D.N.Y., filed April 14, 2018). The plaintiff asserts that the use of a collective term misleads consumers into believing that the products are made from whole, unprocessed fruit, which would require “an additional binding ingredient such as a gel, pectin, juice concentrate or syrup.” A solid bar made without a binding agent, the complaint asserts, would require fruit powder and water, which are not listed on the product labels. Alleging negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranties, fraud and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, damages and attorney’s fees.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging That’s It Nutrition deceptively labels and advertises its snack bars’ ingredients by using collective names for the fruits and vegetables they contain. Medina v. That’s It Nutrition, LLC, No. 18-2022 (E.D.N.Y., filed April 4, 2018). The complaint alleges that That's It fruit bar labels list generic names rather than specific ingredients; for example, one bar's label lists “apples” without specifying whether the ingredient is apple powder, puree or some other processed form of the fruit. “If the defendant began the bar production process with whole intact fruits, the ingredient list would indicate the presence of an additional binding ingredient such as a gel, pectin, juice concentrate or syrup, needed to keep the individual fruit matter together,” the complaint asserts. The label representations, which include “That’s it,” “All Natural,” “No Preservatives,” “Raw,” “No Purees or Juices,” “2 ingredient snack,” “Just Fruit” and…

I Heart Foods Inc. faces a putative class action alleging that its "I Heart Keenwah" Quinoa Puffs contain mostly rice and pea protein rather than the quinoa implied by the product name. Ransom v. I Heart Foods Inc., No. 18-1465 (E.D.N.Y., filed March 8, 2018). According to the complaint, Quinoa Puffs are made from quinoa flour, brown and white rice flours and pea protein concentrate. Manufacturing methods for “puffed extrusion foods” require ingredients that have a low fat and high starch content, the plaintiff asserts, and the high levels of lipids in quinoa suggest that the product is mostly made of rice. In addition, the complaint argues that because pea protein has five times the amount of protein contained in quinoa, the label’s claim of five grams of protein per serving is likely due to the pea protein. Alleging violations of New York consumer-protection laws, breach of warranties, fraud and unjust enrichment,…

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint that a “100% Natural Ingredients” claim was misleading because the processing of the snack bar's ingredients did not comply with the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA's) criteria for use of the term “natural.” United Biscuits submitted a list of ingredients for its “Go Ahead Goodness” snack bars and asserted that all ingredients were made in a traditional manner. After ASA referred to FSA guidance, it determined that the refining of sunflower oil involves the use of chemical solvents and the process of creating reduced-fat cocoa powder involves the addition of potassium carbonate. Because the FSA guidance says neither the solvent extraction process nor the use of acid or alkali solutions is “in line with consumer expectations of ‘natural,’” ASA ruled that consumers would not consider the ingredients natural and that the advertisement was misleading.

BFY Brands, Inc., maker of Our Little Rebellion snacks, faces a potential class action alleging that its one-ounce bags of popcorn contain up to 54 percent slack fill. Reaves v. BFY Brands, Inc., No. 18-2065 (S.D.N.Y., filed March 7, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that he bought bags of Popcorners products—including Smokin’ Jalapeño White Cheddar, Sweet Heat Chili and Sweetly Salted Caramel—but did not receive the amount he expected based on the size of the packages. Claiming violations of New York consumer-protection laws, deceptive and unfair trade practices, false advertising and fraud, the plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, damages, corrective advertising and attorney’s fees.

A California court has denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging the label of Frito-Lay North America Inc.'s Lay's salt-and-vinegar-flavored potato chips fails to specify whether the vinegar flavoring is natural or artificial. Allred v. Frito-Lay N. Am., Inc., No. 17-1345 (S.D. Cal., entered March 7, 2018). The plaintiff couple filed similar lawsuits against Kellogg and Frito-Lay concurrently in July 2017, and Kellogg's motion to dismiss was denied in February 2018. The court held that the suit is not preempted by U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations and found plausible the allegation that a reasonable consumer might be deceived by the Lay's labeling.

A federal court in California has denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging false advertising of Kellogg Co.'s Pringles Salt & Vinegar chips, finding the plaintiffs adequately pleaded all elements of the complaint, including reasonable customer confusion and claims under state consumer-protection laws. Allred v. Kellogg Co., No. 17-1354 (S.D. Cal., entered February 23, 2018). The court rejected Kellogg’s arguments that the plaintiff failed to prove that the company uses artificial flavoring and that the suit was filed as a means to test whether their “guess” was correct during discovery. The court found that the plaintiffs specified “in great detail the distinction between the natural and artificial versions of the ingredients from how they are made to how they are distinguished on a label. Moreover, Allred did allege which version Kellogg uses in its products.” The court also found that the plaintiffs adequately pleaded a violation of the…

MJS America LLC, maker of “Majans Bhuja Snacks,” faces a putative class action alleging that the primary ingredients of its “Ancient Grains Twists” are rice, peas, tapioca and sunflower or canola oil rather than ancient grains. Louis v. MJS America LLC, No. 18-1046 (E.D.N.Y., filed February 18, 2018). The plaintiff asserts that she paid a premium price for the product because she understood “Ancient Grains Twists” to mean that the snack was made exclusively from ancient grains, but the product allegedly contains only “non-substantive” amounts of chia and quinoa seeds, which the complaint describes as “pseudocereals among ancient grains.” Claiming false advertising, breach of express and implied warranties of merchantability, fraud and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, damages and attorney’s fees.

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