A California federal court has granted summary judgment to The Hershey Co. in a lawsuit alleging that its Brookside chocolates are misleadingly labeled as made with “no artificial flavors” because they contain malic acid. Clark v. Hershey Co., No. 18-6113 (N.D. Cal., entered November 15, 2019). The court found that the named plaintiffs admitted in depositions that they did not rely on the contested label. One plaintiff “did suffer an injury as required by California law—he would not have purchased the Brookside products if he had known they contained artificial ingredients,” the court noted. “However, his injury was not caused by the alleged mislabeling of the product, but rather his misunderstanding that the ‘No Artificial Flavors’ statement meant there were no artificial ingredients whatsoever in the product. Accordingly, regardless of defendant’s alleged mislabeling, [the plaintiff] would have suffered the injury.” A second and third plaintiff argued that they had relied on the “no artificial flavors” label claim when they began purchasing Brookside chocolates, but they both first bought the chocolates years before the “no artificial flavors” labeling was added in 2017. Accordingly, the court granted summary judgment on all three plaintiffs’ claims, but it granted permission for “plaintiff to promptly move for another named plaintiff to intervene and to amend the complaint accordingly.”

About The Author


For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.