Tag Archives artificial flavoring

Two consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that Tropicana misleads consumers by implying that its products are natural despite containing malic acid. Willard v. Tropicana Mfg. Co., No. 20-1501 (N.D. Ill., filed February 28, 2020). The complaint argues that Tropicana "tricks consumers" into buying products by "omitting the legally required disclosures" about artificial flavoring because the juice products list malic acid—which the plaintiff asserts is the synthetic flavoring form, dl-malic acid—as an ingredient. Tropicana "intended to give reasonable consumers like the Plaintiff the impression that the Products are pure, natural, and not artificially flavored, by packaging, labeling, and advertising the Products" with depictions of fresh fruit and names such as "Farmstand Apple," the plaintiffs assert. For alleged violations of Illinois and California consumer-protection statutes, they seek class certification, injunctions, damages and attorney's fees.

A plaintiff has alleged that Frito-Lay North America Inc. fails to include a mandated front-of-package disclosure that its Cheddar and Sour Cream chips are flavored with artificial flavoring. Ithier v. Frito-Lay N. Am. Inc., No. 20-1810 (S.D.N.Y., filed March 1, 2020). The complaint asserts that "[b]ased on flavor composition analysis of the Products, the artificial flavor consists of compounds associated with butter flavor," and "butter flavor is known as enhancing and boosting the flavor of cheddar cheese." Thus, according to the plaintiff, the flavor of the chips should be listed as "Artificially Flavored Cheddar & Sour Cream." The plaintiff alleges fraud, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranties and a violation of New York's consumer-protection statute, and he seeks class certification, injunctive relief, damages and attorney's fees.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Tropicana Manufacturing Co. misrepresents its orange juice as "natural" because it contains a variation of malic acid that can be used as an artificial flavoring ingredient. Johnson v. Tropicana Mfg. Co. Inc., No. 19-1164 (S.D. Cal., filed June 20, 2019). The complaint, echoing similar actions filed by the same plaintiff's firm against other companies, alleges that the ingredient "malic acid" on the product's ingredient list is not the naturally occurring l-malic acid but rather d-l malic acid, which "is manufactured in petrochemical plants from benzene or butane—components of gasoline and lighter fluid, respectively—through a series of chemical reactions, some of which involve highly toxic chemical precursors and byproducts." The plaintiff alleges violations of California's consumer-protection laws and seeks class certification, restitution, damages, corrective advertising and attorney's fees.

A California federal court has preliminarily approved a settlement agreement between a consumer and Ferrara Candy Co. alleging the company misleadingly advertised its SweeTarts as free of artificial flavors despite containing malic acid. Littlejohn v. Ferrara Candy Co., No. 18-0658 (S.D. Cal., entered February 28, 2019). Under the agreement, Ferrara will remove the phrase "no artificial flavors" from its packaging and marketing materials and pay $272,000 in attorney's fees.

A California federal court has partially certified a class of consumers that alleges Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. misled them into believing that their products were free of artificial flavoring but contained malic acid. Hilsley v. Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., No. 17-2335 (S.D. Cal., entered November 29, 2018). The court first found that the proposed class met the requirements of typicality, numerosity, commonality and adequacy of the class representative before focusing on the predominance issue for the breach of express warranty and breach of implied warranty allegations. The plaintiff asserted that damages for those allegations could be determined with a survey that apparently identified the price premium that consumers would pay based on the "no artificial flavors" representation. Ocean Spray argued that the "proposed damages model is fatally flawed" because of the use of "diverse comparative products, retailing concepts, juice percentages and an irrelevant specific time period," and the court agreed,…

Plaintiffs represented by the same plaintiff's firm have filed lawsuits alleging that companies mislead consumers by labeling their foods as flavored naturally despite containing malic acid. Lepiane v. Utz Quality Foods LLC, No. 18-2659 (S.D. Cal., filed November 20, 2018); Augustine v. Talking Rain Beverage Co., No. 18-2576 (S.D. Cal., filed November 9, 2018). The plaintiffs who filed against Utz Quality Foods allege that the company's Dirty Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips are labeled as containing "no artificial flavors" but list malic acid as an ingredient. "This type of 'malic acid' is not naturally-occurring but is in fact manufactured in petrochemical plants from benzene or butane—components of gasoline and lighter fluid, respectively—through a series of chemical reactions, some of which involve highly toxic chemical precursors and byproducts," the complaint argues. The complaint against Talking Rain Beverage Co. makes identical allegations. Both complaints allege violations of California consumer-protection statutes and seek…

Seven advocacy groups, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Natural Resources Defense Council and Center for Food Safety, have filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a decision on a 2015 petition asking FDA to withdraw its approval of seven food additives purportedly shown to cause or linked to cancer. In re Breast Cancer Prevention Partners v. FDA, No. 18-71260 (9th Cir., filed May 2, 2018). According to the petition, the additives—including benzophenone, ethyl acrylate and pyridine—add flavoring to food, such as mango, butterscotch, “floral, cinnamon and mint notes." The petition alleges that “food labels do not indicate whether a product contains any of the seven flavors here at issue. And the degree of risk associated with consumption is impossible to predict. ... [C]oncentrations of the flavors—and, therefore, the health consequences of ingestion—may vary significantly between brands.”

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging Trader Joe's Co. falsely advertises its Sour Gummies by failing to disclose that the product contains d-l-malic acid. Wong v. Trader Joe's Co., No. 18-0869 (S.D. Cal., removed to federal court May 4, 2018). The plaintiff asserts that under California law, "any artificial flavor must be identified on both the front-of-package label and the product ingredient list. Defendants fail to do either." According to the complaint, "Trader Joe's maintains a pervasive national marketing campaign guaranteeing that all its house-brand products are only naturally flavored," including the statement "when you see our name on a label, you can be assured that the product contains: YES quality ingredients NO artificial flavors." Alleging unfair competition, false advertising and negligent misrepresentation, the plaintiff seeks class certification, damages, corrective advertising and attorney's fees. In addition, Trader Joe's has filed a notice of opposition to an application for the…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging New England Coffee Company (NECC) mislabels its Hazelnut Crème Coffee by failing to include a front-label disclosure that the product contains natural and artificial flavors. Dumont v. Reily Foods Co., No. 18-10907 (D. Mass., filed May 7, 2018). "Rather, buried on the back side of the label in the far-left corner in tiny print was the only indication that the Product did not contain its characterizing ingredient [hazelnut]," the complaint asserts. The plaintiff argues that the front-label disclosure is a legal requirement and "a material term on which a reasonable consumer would rely." The complaint points to examples of competitors' hazelnut coffees that contain front-of-package disclosures as well as similar disclosures on other varieties of coffee sold by NECC. The complaint asserts that after the plaintiff sent a notification-and-demand letter to NECC in 2017, the company added the disclosure to 15 of the…

Eight advocacy groups have filed a joint petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rule on a 2016 citizen petition seeking recission of approval for several artificial flavorings used in food that have been linked to cancer. Breast Cancer Prevention v. FDA, No. 18-71260 (9th Cir., filed May 2, 2018). The groups, including Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Environmental Working Group and Natural Resources Defense Council, allege that FDA failed to issue a decision by the deadline of August 8, 2016, and request an order mandating FDA to issue a decision within 30 days. The groups allege that after FDA approved the seven chemicals at issue—including benzophenone, ethyl acrylate and styrene—multiple U.S. and international agencies established that each of the chemicals induces cancer in humans or animals. Under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act,…

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