Hornell Brewing Co. Inc. and its subsidiary Arizona Beverage Co. allegedly misrepresent their fruit snacks product as all natural despite containing citric acid, gelatin, ascorbic acid, dextrose, glucose syrup and modified food starch, a consumer alleges. Silva v. Hornell Brewing Co. Inc., No. 20-0756 (E.D.N.Y., filed February 11, 2020). The plaintiff argues that these ingredients are synthetic and cites a 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture draft guidance decision delineating what materials are natural or synthetic. “Congress has defined ‘synthetic’ to mean ‘a substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plants, animals, or mineral sources,” the complaint argues. Further, “[s]urveys and other market research, including expert testimony Plaintiff intends to introduce, will demonstrate that the term ‘natural’ is misleading to a reasonable consumer because the reasonable consumer believes that the term “natural,” when used to describe goods such as the Product, means that the goods are free of synthetic ingredients.” The plaintiff seeks damages, class certification, costs and attorney’s fees for alleged violations of several state consumer-protection statutes and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

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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.