A California federal court has dismissed a putative class action alleging that Mott's apple juices and applesauce are not "natural" as marketed because they contain trace amounts of pesticides. Yu v. Dr Pepper Snapple Grp. Inc., No. 18-6664 (N.D. Cal, entered October 6, 2020). The complaint was previously dismissed without prejudice, and the amended version contained the "same five causes of action" but "added two generic surveys to the allegations." The court examined the additional surveys but was unconvinced that they provided enough support to allow the case to move forward. "The 2015 Consumer Reports Survey arguably undermines, rather than supports, Plaintiff’s argument about the reasonable consumer’s interpretation of the word 'natural,'" the court held. "It states, 'Consumers were asked about their perception of the natural and organic labels. The organic food label is meaningful, is backed by federal regulations, and verified by third-party inspections; the natural label, however, is…
A group of consumers has filed a putative class action alleging the Healthy Beverage Co. LLC misleadingly labels its products as "lightly sweetened" because the product contains 20 grams of added sugar, or 40% of the recommended daily intake. Pierre v. Healthy Beverage Co. LLC, NO. 20-4934 (E.D. Penn., filed October 6, 2020). The complaint cites a letter from the Center for Science in the Public Interest to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alleging the company's representations of its products as "lightly sweetened" are misleading as well as the definition of "lightly" as it appears in a Merriam-Webster dictionary. The plaintiffs allege one cause of action, unjust enrichment, on behalf of a proposed nationwide class.
Grand Brands Inc. allegedly markets its True Lemon powdered drink mixes as "naturally flavored" despite containing malic acid, a plaintiff alleges. Tedesco v. Grand Brands Inc., No. 20-1928 (S.D. Cal., filed September 28, 2020). The complaint asserts that Grand Brands fails to identify the type of malic acid included in its products and alleges that "[e]ven if reasonable consumers were to investigate the Defendant’s claims on the Products’ front labels by scrutinizing the ingredient statements on the back, consumers would still be unable to verify whether the Products contained artificial flavoring." The plaintiff further asserts that "analytical testing" of the products "confirmed that Defendant adds the artificial flavoring dl-malic acid to each of the Products." The eight claimed causes of action include alleged violations of California consumer-protection statutes as well as intentional and negligent misrepresentation.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has responded to a petition submitted by the American Veal Association aiming to establish "a regulatory definition for veal and other immature cattle that reflects established industry practices." The petition included a proposed definition and suggested subcategories for "milk-fed veal," "formula-fed veal" and "grain/grass-fed veal." "After careful consideration of the issues raised in the petition, FSIS has decided to deny your petition without prejudice," the response states. "FSIS has determined that the petition does not include the necessary consumer research or other supporting data to demonstrate that a regulatory definition for 'veal,' based primarily on the dressed carcass weight and compliance with [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] regulations, is needed to meet consumer expectations for products labeled as 'veal.' FSIS has also determined that, for labeling purposes, it is not necessary to define optional…
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested information "pertaining to the labeling of foods comprised of or containing cultured seafood cells," which the agency notes are "being developed and may soon enter the marketplace." "Animal cell culture technology involves the controlled growth of animal cells, their subsequent differentiation into various cell types, and their harvesting and processing into food," the notice states. "Once produced, the harvested cells could potentially be processed into or combined with other foods and marketed in the same, or similar, manner as conventionally produced meat, poultry, and seafood." Comments will be accepted until March 8, 2021.
A consumer has alleged in a putative class action that the "zero-calorie" version of Arizona Beverages USA's Arnold Palmer actually contained 15 calories per can. Meyers v. Arizona Beverages USA LLC, No. 20-5543 (N.D. Ill., E. Div., filed September 18, 2020). The complaint asserts that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required Arizona Beverages to change the name of the product to "diet" because agency regulations only permit beverages with less than five calories per serving to list the calorie content as zero. The plaintiff, alleging that he would not have purchased the product had he known its true calorie content, seeks damages and costs for allegations of consumer fraud and a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
A consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging that Star Snacks Co.'s Imperial Nuts Energy Blend "is deceptively marketed as containing mostly almonds, pecans and walnuts when in actuality is composed of more peanuts than all the other contents combined." Andrews v. Star Snacks Co., No. 20-1357 (N.D. Ala., filed September 11, 2020). The plaintiff alleges she relied on the front-of-packaging displays, which list the contents as "Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Honey Roasted Peanuts, Honey Roasted Sesame Sticks" and show "the more desirable nuts (almonds, pecans and walnuts) arranged more prominently on the package to create a misleading impression of the package contents." The plaintiff alleges breach of contract, breach of warranty and violations of Alabama's Food and Drug Law.
A plaintiff has alleged that he was misled by the packaging on Sara Lee Frozen Bakery's All Butter Pound Cake because he believed butter to be the only shortening ingredient when the cake actually contained soybean oil as well. Briley v. Sara Lee Frozen Bakery LLC, No. 20-7276 (S.D.N.Y., filed September 4, 2020). The complaint asserts, "Where a food is labeled as 'Butter _____' or uses the word 'butter' in conjunction with the food name, reasonable consumers will expect all of the shortening ingredient to be butter," which the plaintiff argues that consumers prefer to other shortening ingredients because they avoid "highly processed artificial substitutes for butter." The plaintiff alleges fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment along with alleged violations of New York's consumer-protection statutes and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Kellogg Sales Co. misleads consumers by marketing its Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts as containing only strawberries in its filling to the exclusion of any other fruit content. Brown v. Kellogg Sales Co., No. 20-7283 (S.D.N.Y., filed September 5, 2020). "Consumers do not expect a food labeled with the unqualified term 'Strawberry' to contain fruit filling ingredients other than strawberry, and certainly do not expect pears and apples, as indicated on the back of the box ingredient list," the complaint asserts. "Contrary to the legal requirements to prevent consumer deception, the Product's name—'Frosted Strawberry'—fails to disclose the percentage of the characterizing ingredient of strawberries in the Product." For allegations of negligent misrepresentation, fraud, unjust enrichment and violations of New York's consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiff seeks class certification, preliminary and permanent injunctions, damages, costs and attorney's fees.
A New York federal court has dismissed a putative class action alleging that Mondelez misled consumers by labeling Oreos as "always made with real cocoa" despite containing cocoa refined through an alkalizing process. Harris v. Mondelez Global LLC, No. 19-2249 (E.D.N.Y., entered July 28, 2020). The plaintiffs argued that the "representation 'real cocoa' is false, deceptive and misleading because consumers expect 'real cocoa' to indicate a higher quality cocoa than had the ingredient merely been accurately identified as 'cocoa' (minus the descriptor 'real')." "Plaintiffs do not dispute that the challenged products are in fact made with cocoa, which is fatal to their case," the court held. " Plaintiffs’ claims are trained on whether the product contains cocoa that is real, and the Oreos indisputably do contain cocoa, along with other ingredients." The court dismissed the claims with prejudice, finding the substantive issue could not be cured with better pleadings.