Cereal Misleads on Primary Sweetener, Plaintiff Alleges
A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Post Consumer Brands’ Honey Bunches of Oats is misleadingly named because the cereals are sweetened primarily by “sugar, corn syrup, and other refined substances, and contain only miniscule amounts of honey.” Tucker v. Post Consumer Brands LLC, No. 19-3993 (N.D. Cal., filed July 11, 2019). The complaint details the alleged “negative health effects of consuming excess amounts of sugar” and asserts that “the branding and packaging of the Products convey the clear message that honey is the primary sweetener or—at a minimum—that honey is a significant sweetener compared to sugar and other refined substances that are perceived by consumers to be unhealthy or less healthy. Unfortunately for consumers, this message is simply untrue.” The plaintiff includes the ingredient lists for several Honey Bunches of Oats varieties, which show “sugar” as the second or third ingredient along with “brown sugar,” “corn syrup” and “molasses” appearing before “honey” or “wildflower honey.”
“The branding and packaging of ‘Honey Bunches of Oats’ deceptively conveys that honey is the primary recognizable flavor or the characterizing flavor of the Products,” the plaintiff argues. “However, this is deceptive and misleading as the Products all contain flavoring ingredients in far greater quantities than honey, and many of these ingredients—such as molasses, brown sugar, nuts, and dried fruit—have flavor characteristics that are far more prominent than honey. Indeed, even a cereal variety that doubles-down on honey—’Honey Bunches of Oats, Crunchy Honey Roasted’—contains a number of flavoring ingredients that are each present in greater proportions than honey.” The plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, monetary relief, costs and attorney’s fees for alleged violations of California’s consumer-protection law.