A class action complaint filed by Jessica Barton in the Southern District of New York claims the coffee and sandwich shop chain Pret A Manger uses a false marketing campaign that claims its products are natural when they contain synthetic ingredients including soya, a genetically modified organism (GMO).
Barton, represented by The Sultzer Law Group, claims she relied on representations that the food was natural while purchasing products. “Plaintiff and Class Members paid a premium for the Products over and above comparable products that did not purport to be ‘Natural,’” the complaint stated, claiming they suffered by paying more than they otherwise would have for the products because of the false advertising.
The complaint claimed Pret A Manger is violating New York General Business Law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and consumer protection statutes in all 50 states. The company uses a logo featured in advertisements, signs, paper products, and employee uniforms which represents that it sells “Natural Food.”
“Despite being advertised as “Natural,” Pret A Manger Products contain ingredients including maltodextrin (Pret Salt & Vinegar Chips), citric acid (Pret Salt & Vinegar Chips, Pret BBQ Chips, Pure Pret Ginger Beer), lactic acid (Pret Salt & Vinegar Chips), and malic acid (Pret Salt & Vinegar Chips) … these ingredients are synthetic, and not natural,” Barton states in the complaint. The plaintiff also claims the sandwich bread contains “diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides, mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids, and ascorbic acid.”
Many sandwiches, wraps, and desserts contain soya, which according to the complaint is derived from GMOs or produced synthetically. “Reasonable consumers do not expect a synthetic chemical with suspected health concerns to be found in a product marketed as ‘natural,’ which makes Pret A Manger’s ‘Natural Food’ representation deceptive and misleading,” Barton claimed.
The plaintiff asked that Pret A Manger be required to stop advertising that its products are natural and inform consumers that the products contain GMOs and synthetic ingredients. The complaint also requested monetary damages for the class members.