Tag Archives artificial flavoring

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,…

Kellogg Co. faces a putative class action alleging its Salt & Vinegar Pringles are mislabeled as containing “No Artificial Flavors” because the nutrition label identifies two artificial ingredients. Marotto v. Kellogg Co., No. 18-3545 (S.D.N.Y., filed April 20, 2018). The complaint asserts that although both sodium diacetate and malic acid can occur in nature, the sodium diacetate used in the product is “a synthetic industrial chemical manufactured in a chemical refinery from carbon monoxide and industrial methanol" while the malic acid is “d-1-malic acid . . . manufactured in petrochemical plants from benzene or butane.” Alleging unfair and deceptive business practices, false advertising and misrepresentation, the plaintiff seeks class certification, corrective advertising, damages and attorney’s fees. In March 2018, a federal court in California refused to dismiss a similar lawsuit against Kellogg, finding the plaintiffs had adequately pleaded reasonable customer confusion.

A California federal court has dismissed with prejudice a putative consolidated class action alleging that Quaker Oats Co. falsely advertised its instant oatmeal as containing maple syrup, finding that the plaintiffs were unable to allege conduct not preempted by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). In re Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal Litig., No. 16-1442 (C.D. Cal., entered March 8, 2018). The court previously found that flavoring claims were preempted by the FDCA and the Nutritional Labeling and Education Act, but the court also allowed the plaintiffs to replead so it could consider preemption from the standpoint of maple as a sweetener. In its reconsideration, the court noted that, “to evade preemption at this stage, Plaintiffs would need to either allege that the Products’ labels violate the FDA’s sweetener requirements or raise claims that are not addressed by federal law.” Because the amended complaint did…

A California court has denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging the label of Frito-Lay North America Inc.'s Lay's salt-and-vinegar-flavored potato chips fails to specify whether the vinegar flavoring is natural or artificial. Allred v. Frito-Lay N. Am., Inc., No. 17-1345 (S.D. Cal., entered March 7, 2018). The plaintiff couple filed similar lawsuits against Kellogg and Frito-Lay concurrently in July 2017, and Kellogg's motion to dismiss was denied in February 2018. The court held that the suit is not preempted by U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations and found plausible the allegation that a reasonable consumer might be deceived by the Lay's labeling.

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…

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