On Friday, a class action lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California against Nature Path Foods Inc. The lawsuit stems from alleged product mislabeling on the part of the defendant, specifically mislabeling the amount of protein in hemp granola.
The plaintiffs accused the defendant of violating the Consumers Legal Remedies Act; unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent trade practices; common law fraud; deceit; misrepresentation; false advertising; and unjust enrichment.
The plaintiffs said that Nature Path Foods falsely represented the amount of protein in “hemp hearts granola” products, which reportedly claims that it provides 10 grams of protein per serving. In much finer print, the defendant added that this is only true with the inclusion of milk, however some packages didn’t include this print at all. The plaintiffs found that without milk, there are only about 6 grams of protein. They claimed that the instructions regarding milk are not prominent enough and that the defendant failed to include the percent daily value of the product’s protein content which is reportedly required according to state and federal regulations.
The plaintiffs claimed that “these representations deceive and mislead reasonable consumers into believing that a serving of the products will provide the grams of protein as represented on the label.” However when amino acid testing was completed, they discovered that each serving size had around 3.87 grams of protein. This is a 57% discrepancy with what the packaging claimed, the complaint explained. Even with the presence of milk, plaintiffs claimed that the product still provides 28% less protein than promised.
Furthermore, the plaintiff stated that the defendant uses proteins of low biological value to humans in its products, such as oats. Plant based proteins like the ones included in the product cannot be fully digested by humans and therefore do not provide the full amount of protein to its consumer. Essential amino acids are measured by the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score, for example, whey protein which has all 9 essential amino acids has a score of 1.0, meaning 100% of the protein is digested. For this product, the plaintiffs claimed that it has a score of 0.5-0.6, which means that only 50-60% of the proteins are digested.
The plaintiffs alleged that they purchased this product specifically based on claims made on the packaging and paid a premium price because of the claims on the packaging. They would not have done so had they known that the labeling was misleading.
The plaintiffs asked to represent a class of “all persons in the State of California who purchased the Products between July 2, 2017 and the present.” They also requested a subclass for people who purchased products that made no mention of the need for milk.
Through the complaint, the putative classes are seeking an order temporarily and permanently enjoining Nature Path Foods from “continuing the unlawful, deceptive, fraudulent, and unfair business practices alleged in this complaint” and financial compensation for any damages the court decides are owed.
The plaintiff is represented by Gutride Safier.