Tag Archives New York

Two consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that Beverage Marketing USA Inc. markets its AriZona iced green tea products as containing “ginseng for energy” despite lacking “any detectible amounts of ginseng, if indeed it contains any ginseng at all.” Niles v. Beverage Marketing USA Inc., No. 19-1902 (E.D.N.Y., filed April 2, 2019). The complaint asserts that ginseng demand “has skyrocketed while supply has dwindled, causing prices to surge to above $1,000 per pound. Ginseng is so coveted in the marketplace that certain species of ginseng have been harvested to the edge of extinction.” The plaintiffs allege that they “retained two respected food laboratories to conduct three tests of the Product for ginsenosides,” “the main chemical constituent of ginseng,” and apparently found that “none of the three tests were able to detect any amount of ginsenosides in the Product.” Additional tests allegedly showed that AriZona’s competitors’ products did contain…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Bareburger Group misrepresents its restaurants as selling only organic food despite using some non-organic ingredients in its products. Rosenberg v. Bareburger Grp., No. 19-1634 (E.D.N.Y., filed March 22, 2019). The plaintiff and Bareburger were the subjects of a New York Times article in August 2018 that explored the use of the term "organic" in restaurant advertising. The complaint asserts that Bareburger features the term "organic" throughout its signage, menu descriptions and marketing but does not ensure that the products are fully organic. "Defendant's executives confirmed that approximately 75 to 80 percent of the burgers were organic, not 100 percent, contrary to the labels," the plaintiff alleges, citing the New York Times article. "Defendant's 'Organic' restaurants have countless non-organic ingredients including lamb and bison and mayonnaise and tomatoes—crucial condiments when it comes to dressing up a purportedly organic burger." For allegations…

A lawsuit alleging that StarKist misleads consumers by paying to feature the American Heart Association's (AHA's) Heart-Check Mark will continue after a New York federal court refused to dismiss the complaint. Warner v. StarKist Co., No. 18-0406 (N.D.N.Y., entered March 25, 2019). The court refused to dismiss the plaintiff's allegation that the Heart-Check Mark materially misleads consumers—finding "StarKist’s failure to argue that the omission of language indicating it paid to place the Heart Check-Mark on its products would not mislead a reasonable consumer"—but noted that "this is a close call, which could be revisited at the summary judgment stage." The court dismissed the plaintiff's request for an injunction because it found "no 'real and immediate' threat of future injury" because the plaintiff's "own allegations indicate that he will not purchase or pay as much for the product going forward."

A consumer has alleged that TGI Friday's Inc. misleads consumers with the name of its "Potato Skins," including the "Cheddar & Bacon," "Bacon Ranch" and "Sour Cream & Onion" varieties, because the products contain only "potato flakes" and "potato starch." Troncoso v. TGI Friday's Inc., No. 19-2735 (S.D.N.Y., filed March 27, 2019). The plaintiff alleges that the "labeling deceives consumers into believing that they are receiving a healthier snack, but Defendant's products do not live up to these claims." "The online version of the San Francisco Chronicle, sfgate.com, published an article titled, 'The Benefits of Eating Potato Skins,' touting many nutritional benefits in consuming potato skins, noting their high content of vitamin B-6, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, iron, potassium, magnesium, and fiber," the plaintiff asserts. "Similar articles and blog posts can be found on the Internet, where many reasonable consumers believe it to be the case." The complaint explains that…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that L & K Coffee Co. misleads consumers by selling a blend of coffee it labels as "Kona," which allegedly refers to a distinctive geographic region in Hawaii. Faison v. L & K Coffee Co., No. 19-1248 (E.D.N.Y., filed March 3, 2019). The complaint asserts that authentic Kona coffee has identifiable "concentration ratios of strontium-to-zinc and barium-to-nickel," and testing purportedly found different ratios in L & K's Kona coffee. "A reasonable consumer would not expect a product labeled a Kona blend to contain 100% Kona, but would expect an amount significant enough to characterize the overall blend, and that amount is absent from the Products," the plaintiff argues. For allegations of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and violations of New York consumer-protection statutes, he seeks injunctive relief, damages and attorney's fees.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Cento Fine Foods Inc. misleadingly markets its tomatoes as "Certified San Marzano" without having the proper certification. Sibrian v. Cento Fine Foods Inc., No. 19-0974 (E.D.N.Y., filed February 19, 2019). San Marzano tomatoes are grown vertically with supports in San Marzano sul Sarno in Italy, the complaint asserts. Cento's San Marzano cans feature a logo for an Italian agency that "does not 'certify' that the Products are compliant with the San Marzano guidelines, and it is actually an entity which may have performed the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] Organic certification," the complaint argues. Cento's website also identifies a company that "verifies that the Products conform to the San Marzano official criteria," but the plaintiff alleges that the company "is believed to be the company which supplies defendant with San Marzano seeds and possibly certifies whether the Products are organic, as…

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reportedly said in a February 27, 2019, hearing before the House Appropriations Committee that the agency will hold public hearings on cannabidiol (CBD) in April 2019. Gottlieb reportedly told the committee that FDA is assembling a working group of senior officials to create rules that would govern CBD in food and other uses. According to CNBC, "Gottlieb floated what a possible framework might look like. He suggested high concentrations might be regulated as a drug that has more stringent oversight while lower concentrations could be categorized as food products that come with an easier review process." Meanwhile, a New York City crackdown on CBD in food products has reportedly been postponed. Beginning in October 2019, CBS reports, violators selling CBD food may be subject to fines of $200 and risk lower public health letter grades.

A consumer has alleged that Snack Innovations Inc.'s Drizzilicious rice cakes are advertised as containing white chocolate but only contain "imitation flavoring." Morrison v. Snack Innovations Inc., No. 19-1238 (S.D.N.Y., filed February 8, 2019). The complaint asserts that "white chocolate," by U.S. regulations, contains cocoa butter, dairy ingredients and sweetener, including 20 percent cocoa butter and 3.5 percent milk fat by weight. "The imitation white chocolate in the Products do not have cocoa butter or milk fat as required, and instead have other cheap confectionary ingredients to imitate the taste of white chocolate." The plaintiff alleges fraud and violations of New York consumer-protection statutes and seeks class certification, damages, corrective advertising and attorney's fees.

Consolidated litigation to determine whether Kind LLC misleads consumers by marketing its products as "all natural" and made without genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will continue after a two-year delay. In re Kind LLC "Healthy and All Natural" Litig., No. 15-2645 (S.D.N.Y., entered February 11, 2019). The court previously stayed the litigation in anticipation of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance documents on when the uses of "natural" and "non-GMO" are appropriate on food labeling. "Given that there is no reason to continue the stay on the 'non-GMO' claims and that neither party wishes to litigate the claims in piecemeal fashion, it makes sense to begin discovery," the court held. "Moreover, this Court explained that the case for lifting the 'all natural' stay would be 'substantially stronger' if the FDA failed to provide guidance by August 2018. Six months later, guidance is still awaited. It is time for this multi-district…

Following a settlement with California district attorneys making similar allegations, Russell Stover and Ghirardelli Chocolates have been targeted in a New York putative class action alleging the companies' chocolate packages are "predominantly empty" "through the large void spaces which comprise most of the packaging interior around the actual few items contained therein." Faison v. Russell Stover Chocolates LLC, No. 19-0721 (E.D.N.Y., filed February 5, 2019). The complaint asserts that consumers cannot see the chocolates in the opaque packaging, "causing them to believe the chocolate contents filled all, most, or more of the packaging than they actually did." The plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, damages and attorney's fees for allegations of unjust enrichment, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranties and violations of New York's consumer-protection statutes.

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