A group of consumers have filed a proposed class action against a North Carolina kombucha company, alleging the company misleads consumers as to the alcohol content of its beverages. Burke v. Tribucha, Inc., No. 22-0406 (E.D.N.C., filed October 6, 2022).

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that, when made without pasteurization, can develop a high amount of alcohol, their complaint argues. The plaintiffs, who live in Florida, Illinois, Virginia and Tennessee, assert that Tribucha failed to disclose that its raw kombucha is an alcohol beverage, instead labeling the products as containing only trace amounts of alcohol. They allege that the beverages contain more than twice the alcohol allowed for non-alcohol beverages.

“Defendant’s disclaimer that the Products ‘contain a trace amount of alcohol,’ is woefully inadequate as it does not contain the mandated Surgeon General warning, is not prominently featured on the product, and is still sold to consumers under 21 years old,” the complaint asserts. “The disclaimer is also false, as the Products contain more than just ‘trace amounts’ of alcohol. As a result, reasonable customers are still being misled by Defendant’s false and misleading advertising concerning the alcohol content of its kombucha beverages.”

The plaintiffs allege Tribucha violated state consumer-protection laws in their respective states. They are also bringing claims of fraud, breach of express and implied warranties and unjust enrichment. They are seeking class certification, declarative judgment, damages, prejudgment interest, restitution, injunctive relief and reasonable attorney’s fees.

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.