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 Sherman Law by alleging Kellogg did not label its ingredients as artificial, successfully establishing a predicate legal violation for a claim under California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL). The plaintiffs may also proceed with an “unfair” claim under the UCL, the court held, because their allegations focus on the confusion as to whether the product contains the natural or artificial versions of flavoring ingredients. The court further held that the plaintiffs had both Article III standing and standing for injunctive relief because they sufficiently pleaded a threat of future injury.

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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.