A class action lawsuit was filed against Nestle USA, Inc for misleading consumers about its products that bear a “No GMO Ingredients ™” certificate of approval on the packaging that appears to be that of an independent third-party, when, it in fact, is not.
Recognizing the value of independent certification in the marketplace, the Federal Trade Commission has warned companies against representations involving independent certification because they are misleading to consumers and has issued guidelines for companies to follow in order not to deceive. “It is deceptive to misrepresent, directly or by implication, that a product, package, or service has been endorsed or certified by an independent third party. 16 C.F.R. §260.6
As alleged in the complaint, in violation of these principles, Defendant has represented to consumers that several of the products it sells have been certified by an independent third party as not containing GMO ingredients, by affixing a No GMO Ingredients TM seal on the Products. According to the complaint, these representations by Defendant are false and the No GMO Ingredients ™ seal of approval is not the product of a neutral, third party, but instead the work of Defendant itself.
California’s Fair Packaging and Labeling Act provides: “No food containers shall be made, formed, or filled as to be misleading.” (California Business & Professions Code § 12606.2(b).) “A container that does not allow the consumer to fully view its contents shall be considered to be filled as to be misleading if it contains nonfunctional slack fill.” (California Business & Professions Code § 12606.2(c).) Section 12606.2(c) defines “slack fill” as “the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein.” According to the complaint, Boulder Brands USA, Inc., maker of Glutino Gluten Free Pretzels, markets and sells its pretzel products in packaging that is 40% empty space.
This is a class action brought on behalf of Plaintiff and a nationwide class of consumers who purchased certain New England Coffee Company coffees. Plaintiff purchased NECC’s Hazelnut Crème Coffee. The front of the package prominently described the coffee as Hazelnut Cream and indicated only that it was a medium blend with a rich nutty flavor leaving the Plaintiff and fellow consumers to reasonably believe that the coffee contained enough of its characterizing ingredient (i.e. hazelnut) to provide it with the promised flavor. In truth, however, the Hazelnut Crème Coffee contains none of its characterizing ingredient, and instead is both artificially and naturally flavored.
That’s It Nutrition, LLC manufactures and sells snack food products under the brand “That’s it.” The Products consist of (1) fruit bars, (2) fruit bars with added spicy ingredients, (3) chocolate-covered fruit pieces (4) vegetable bars. The products labeling claim: “No Purees or Juices,” “No Sulfur or Sulfites,” “No Sugar Added,” “No Preservatives,” the “2 ingredient snack,” “Just Fruit” and “Fruit is all we use.” According to the complaint, the labeling conveys that the defendant was responsible for taking the whole intact fruit, washing it, dicing or chopping it, then mashing it together to form the final bar, so that the product can credibly attest that it contains ingredients identified by a collective name.
As alleged, by listing ingredients with a collective name, a reasonable consumer gets the impression that the raw material existed in its whole, intact form, which means the products are necessarily fresher because its component ingredients were not made years ago and sat on a warehouse shelf until the time they were used in the products. It is misleading, however, to list ingredients with a collective name because consumers are unable to distinguish the value, quality and nature of the actual ingredients prior to purchase.
The complaint claims the labeling is misleading because That’s It does not convert whole, intact fruits or vegetables into the final product. Rather, the Products contain ingredients which have already been subjected to various levels of processing and transformation such that designating them by their collective name is misleading. The Complaint contends that rather than containing fruit, the bars are made from a highly processed fruit powder.
Eat Real Foods USA, LLC manufactures and sells snack products made from lentils, chickpeas and quinoa under the brand “EatReal” accompanied by slogans and advertising promoting the healthy and unique aspects of its Products. The complaint pertains to “Quinoa Puffs,” “Quinoa Chips,” “Lentil Chips,” and “Hummus Chips” (the “Products”), sold to consumers in bags of various sizes through third-parties via brick-and-mortar stores and online.
As alleged, though the Quinoa Puffs lists “Quinoa Puffs” as the first and most predominant ingredient, the listing of its sub-ingredients reveals “Corn Meal” present in an amount greater than quinoa. Similarly, the Quinoa Chips list “Quinoa Flour” as the first ingredient, the second ingredient is “Corn Flour” and the fourth ingredient is “Corn Starch,” making it probable that corn is present in the Quinoa Chips in an amount greater than quinoa. The Lentil and Hummus Chips’ lists lentil flour and chickpea flour as their first ingredients. However, because lentil flour (48%) and chickpea flour (45%) are each present in an amount less than half, it is probable that the substantive, non-flavoring ingredients are actually present in an amount which exceeds lentil and chickpea flour.
As alleged, the labeling of these products misleadingly suggest that the Products either consist entirely of quinoa, lentils and chickpeas or at a minimum that those ingredients are present in an amount which greatly exceeds any other non-substantive ingredients. This impression is reinforced by each Product being prominently identified with a large circle denoting the specific flavor – i.e., White Cheddar Flavor – such that they will conclude the flavor is “White Cheddar” when actually the Products are corn, rice and potato snacks that are flavored with quinoa, lentils and chickpeas.
The complaint alleges that the company’s Quinoa Puffs overstate the amount of quinoa in the products and that the protein content is primarily derived from rice or pea protein concentrate. The presence of quinoa has a material bearing on price and consumer acceptance of the product rendering its branding false and misleading.
The lawsuit charges Defendant with intentionally packaging its Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Baking Mix products in opaque containers that contain approximately 50% empty space. Consumers, in reliance on the size of the containers, purchased the Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Baking Mix products, which they would not have purchased had they known that the containers were substantially empty.
Plaintiff purchased Defendant’s Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade® Baking Mix Cornbread product in June of 2017 in Poway, California. Plaintiff expected to receive a full container of the Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Baking Mix Cornbread product, which is packaged in non-transparent containers,
Plaintiff was surprised and disappointed when he opened the Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Baking Mix Cornbread product to discover that the container had more than 50% empty space, or slack-fill.
Had Plaintiff known about the slack-fill at the time of purchase, he would not have bought Defendant’s product.
This is a consumer protection class action arising out of Defedant Rexall Sundown, Inc false and misleading advertising of its glucosamine products. Defendant markets, sells and distributes a line of joint health dietary supplements under the “Osteo Bi-Flex” brand name, and Defendant represents that these products are beneficial to the joints of the consumers who use them.
Each of the Osteo Bi-Flex products at issue in Defendant’s joint health product line, through their labeling and packaging, and through Defendant’s other advertising and marketing materials, communicate the same substantive message to consumers: that Osteo Bi-Flex provides meaningful joint health benefits.
As alleged, these representations are designed to induce consumers to believe that Defendant’s Osteo Bi-Flex joint health products are capable of actually providing meaningful joint benefits, and consumers purchase Defendant’s Osteo Bi-Flex joint health products solely for the purpose of enjoying these purported joint health benefits.
Defendant’s Osteo Bi-Flex products, however, are incapable of supporting or benefiting the health of human joints because the main ingredients in each of Defendant’s Osteo Bi-Flex products at issue, either alone or in combination with other ingredients, cannot support or benefit joint health. Accordingly, Defendant’s joint health representations are false, misleading and deceptive, and its Osteo Bi-Flex joint health products are worthless.
This is a class action against Defendant Monini North America, Inc. for its unlawful, misleading, and deceptive misbranding of its Monini White Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil (“Monini White Truffle Oil”) and Monini Black Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil (“Monini Black Truffle Oil”) (collectively, the “Products” or “Monini Truffle Oil”) sold to consumers. Monini markets its truffle oil as being flavored by actual “White truffle[s]” or “Black Truffle[s],” respectively. But Monini Truffle Oil is nothing of the sort; instead of flavoring its oil with actual “White Truffle[s],” or “Black Truffle[s],” Defendant’s Product is flavored by an industrially produced, chemically-derived perfume known as “2,4-dithiapentane.” Despite the absence of actual “White Truffle” or “Black Truffle,” Monini Truffle Oil is sold at a substantial price premium over olive oil not flavored with real truffles.
The complaint alleges that 2,4-dithiapentane, also known as “formaldehyde dimethyl mercaptal,” is synthetically prepared by the acid-catalyzed addition of methyl mercaptan to formaldehyde. Although it emulates the taste and smell of truffles, it is not truffle.
As further alleged, Monini’s misbranding is intentional. The front label and packaging of Monini White Truffle Oil represents in extra-large lettering that the product is flavored by “White Truffle.” Directly underneath this “White Truffle” representation is an oversized image of a sliced open white truffle. Similarly, the front label and packaging of Monini Black Truffle Oil represents in extra-large lettering that the product is flavored by “Black Truffle.” Directly underneath this “Black Truffle” representation is an oversized image of sliced open black truffles.
The mislabeling of Monini Truffle Oil renders the product completely worthless. By mislabeling its products, Monini dupes consumers into purchasing something that is not truffle oil. Nevertheless, Monini Truffle Oil is labeled and sold as premium truffle oil, and it commands a substantial price premium over other olive oil product.
The parties have reached a $25 million settlement on behalf of former Trump University students to resolve a number of class actions and an action by the New York Attorney General. To get a payment, you must submit a claim form by March 6th.
The lawsuits generally allege that “Trump University” and Trump violated federal law across the country and state law (in California, Florida and New York) by promising, but not delivering access to Trump’s real estate techniques taught by “hand-picked” professors at an elite “university,” when in fact Trump was not substantively involved in the Live Events curriculum or selecting the instructors and the New York State Education Department had warned Trump it was unlawful to call it a “university.”
You must submit a claim form on or before March 6, 2017 to get a payment from the settlement.
Visit the settlement website for more details: http://www.trumpuniversitylitigation.com/Home/Documents