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Two consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that Barilla America Inc. markets its pasta to incorrectly imply that the products are made in Italy. Sinatro v. Barilla Am. Inc., No. 22-3460 (N.D. Cal., filed June 11, 2022). The complaint asserts that consumers seek "authentic Italian-made pastas" because they "hold a certain prestige and [are] generally viewed as a higher quality product." The plaintiffs argue that Barilla's statement "Italy's #1 Brand of Pasta," which appears prominently on its product packaging, leads consumers to believe that the products are made in Italy rather than New York and Iowa. Further, the company's website describes it as "an Italian family-owned food company" and emphasizes that "Italians know the familiar Blue Box means quality, perfectly al dente pastas every time. That's why Barilla has been an Italian favorite for over 140 years, and continues to be the #1 pasta in Italy today." For alleged…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging Danone North America Public Benefit Corp. misleads consumers about the nature of its International Delight coffee creamers by labeling the products as creamers rather than non-dairy creamers. English v. Danone N. Am. Pub. Benefit Corp., No. 22-5105 (S.D.N.Y., filed June 17, 2022). The plaintiff argues that International Delight creamer "lacks cream or dairy ingredients beyond a de minimis amount of sodium caseinate" and instead "substitutes water and palm oil, the first and third ingredients, to reduce costs." The complaint notes that consumers "value cream from dairy ingredients for its nutritive purposes," and the plaintiff alleges she would not have purchased the product if she had not been misled by the packaging implying the presence of dairy ingredients. For alleged violations of New York consumer-protection statutes, fraud, unjust enrichment and breach of express warranty, the plaintiff seeks class certification, restitution, damages and attorney's fees.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging Whole Foods Market Group Inc. sells a boxed rice pilaf in packaging that misleads consumers by being larger than the ingredients inside require. Jacobs v. Whole Foods Mkt. Grp., No. 22-0002 (N.D. Ill., E. Div., filed January 1, 2022). The complaint details Whole Foods' stated commitment to environmentally friendly practices before arguing that the rice pilaf box contains "over 50%" empty space without legitimate reason. "Defendant promised customers, through digital, print, audio, television, and in-store placards and signs, that it is replicating its reduction in excess packing materials across all aspects of its operations, to promote environmental welfare," the plaintiff asserts. "Defendant’s excess packaging violates its pledges and commitments to consumers that it will operate sustainably and promote environmental stewardship." In addition to allegations of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff alleges violations of Illinois consumer-protection statutes and the Magnuson-Moss…

Kilwins Quality Confections Inc. sold chocolate and other candy products in containers that "materially overstate the volume of the contents," according to a plaintiff. Rand v. Kilwins Quality Confections Inc., No. 21-1513 (N.D. Ill., E. Div., filed March 18, 2021). The consumer argues that the company's shredded-chocolate containers "materially overstate the actual volume of, and the number of servings contained in, the containers and packaging in which they are advertised and sold and similarly materially understate the caloric content of a serving." The jars of chocolate were labeled as containing 20 servings of two tablespoons despite containing only 16 servings of that size, the plaintiff argues, and the caloric content of one serving is 140 calories rather than 110 calories as listed on the package. "While Kilwins has recently quietly corrected labeling on the mislabeled products, it has failed to compensate thousands of consumers who, over the three (3) to…

A New York federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against Oregon Chai Inc. for failure to state a claim in litigation centered on whether using the term "vanilla" on packaging is misleading to consumers. Cosgrove v. Oregon Chai Inc., No. 19-10686 (S.D.N.Y., entered February 22, 2021). "In the past two years, counsel for Plaintiffs [] has filed numerous class action complaints across the country, including several in this District, challenging food manufacturers’ use of the term 'vanilla' in their descriptions or advertising," the decision begins. "In nearly all of these cases, the district court ultimately found that the plaintiffs had failed to state a viable claim for relief. This time, Plaintiffs challenge Defendant Oregon Chai, Inc. [], claiming that Defendant’s use of the term 'vanilla' and other statements on the packaging of its chai tea latte powdered mix is misleading to consumers. As set forth in the remainder of this Opinion,…

A California federal court has approved the settlement of a lawsuit alleging Post Foods LLC misrepresented the nutritional value of its cereals because of the added sugar content. Krommenhock v. Post Foods LLC, No. 16-4958 (N.D. Cal., entered February 24, 2021). Under the settlement agreement, Post will pay $15 million to the nationwide class and remove phrases related to nutritional benefits on its packaging if more than 10% of the cereal's calories per serving come from added sugar.

A plaintiff has filed a putative class action alleging Demoulas Super Markets Inc. includes representations on its Market Basket coffee indicating that the tins hold 76 to 79 cups of coffee but only contain 37 to 39 cups when prepared according to the label's instructions. Cohen v. Demoulas Super Mkts. Inc., No. 21-10177 (D. Mass., filed February 2, 2021). "This means that consumers of the Products, including Plaintiff, were cheated out of 51% of the servings they paid for, in both cases, based on the advertising, marketing, and labeling of the Products," the complaint asserts. The plaintiff alleges claims of unjust enrichment as well as breach of express warranty and untrue and misleading advertising under Massachusetts General Laws.

Two consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that Icelandic Provisions Inc.'s skyr cultured dairy product is misleadingly marketed as made in Iceland despite being produced in New York. Mantini v. Icelandic Provisions, Inc., No. 21-0618 (S.D.N.Y., filed January 23, 2021). The packaging for the skyr, which features the text "Traditional Icelandic Skyr" and photos of an Icelandic countryside, "gives consumers the belief it is made in Iceland," the complaint asserts. Although the back of the package indicates that the product is "made in Batavia, NY with domestic and imported ingredients," the plaintiffs allege they "relied upon the representations and indications of the Product's origins - literally and figuratively - in Iceland, and desired to purchase such a product." Alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and violation of Pennsylvania's consumer-protection statute, the plaintiffs seek class certification, injunctive relief, damages, costs and attorney's fees.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has reportedly signed a law banning single-use plastic and paper bags and imposing limits on other food containers and straws. Effective May 2022, the law will ban the use of polystyrene food and drink containers, and single-use plastic straws may only be provided upon request beginning in November 2021. Some products will be exempt until 2024, including meat and fish trays, food prepackaged in polystyrene by the manufacturer, polystyrene soda spoons used for thick drinks and portion cups for foods requiring a lid.

A group of consumers has filed a putative class action asserting that Nestle USA Inc. and Ferrara Candy Co.’s opaque candy boxes contain too much slack fill. Iglesia v. Nestle USA Inc., No. 20-5971 (D.N.J., filed May 15, 2020). The complaint alleges that Ferrara and Nestle “pioneered a scheme to deceptively sell candy in oversized, opaque boxes that do not reasonably inform consumers that they are half empty. Defendants’ ‘slack-fill’ scam dupes unsuspecting consumers across America to pay for empty space at premium prices.” The complaint also features several photos of boxes with portions cut away, purportedly showing the amount of empty space in an unopened package. For alleged violations of New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and Florida consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiffs seek an injunction, restitution, damages and attorney’s fees.

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