A New York federal court has denied class certification to a group of consumers alleging that they were misled by Kellogg Co.’s Pringles Salt & Vinegar chips label into believing the product contained no artificial ingredients. Marotto v. Kellogg Co., No. 18-3545 (S.D.N.Y., entered December 5, 2019). The plaintiff identified himself as a chef who has a deep knowledge of molecular gastronomy and is married to an attorney who works at a law firm seeking to represent the putative class. “Unfortunately, for [the plaintiff], once he popped, the fun did, ultimately, stop,” the court noted, explaining that the plaintiff stated he was misled by the sodium diacetate and malic acid on the ingredient list.

The court found that the plaintiff “plainly failed to satisfy the predominance requirement” because only four of 20 Pringles labels contained the challenged “No Artificial Flavors” label. “How is the Court supposed to sift through tens of thousands of individuals to find the subset that has in fact seen the ‘No Artificial Flavors’ label? If would-be class members claim to have seen the label but lack a receipt from their Pringles purchase, is the Court obligated to hold a hearing to evaluate each individual’s credibility? Even if a would-be class member has a receipt proving a purchase of a Pringles can with the ‘No Artificial Flavors’ label, is a hearing nonetheless needed to confirm that the class member in fact looked at the miniscule back-of-the-can lettering? Unwieldy individual issues clearly predominate.” Accordingly, the court denied class certification.

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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.

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