On Monday, the Kraft Heinz Food Company filed a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit alleging that its Kraft Mac & Cheese products may contain dangerous chemicals.
The suit was filed in April in the Northern District of Illinois by Gabrielle Stuve and Jessica Nicodemo, and claims that the defendant’s boxed macaroni and cheese products are misleadingly labeled as healthy when they may contain phthalates. The suit describes phthalates as endocrine disrupting chemicals that may lead to reproductive issues for men and women and impede brain development in children.
“Nowhere on the Products’ packaging or labeling is there any disclosure on the inclusion (or possible inclusion) of phthalates. Instead, the Kraft Mac & Cheese Products’ packaging represents that its Products are wholesome and healthy. The package promises that the Products are ‘The Taste You Love’ as they have ‘NO Artificial Flavors’ and ‘NO Artificial Preservatives’ and ‘NO Artificial Dyes.’ This leads reasonable consumers to believe the product is wholesome and healthy and does not contain dangerous chemicals like phthalates,” the suit states.
The plaintiffs are seeking actual and statutory damages, as well as injunctive relief, including requiring Kraft to test all of its products for phthalates and to disclose all ingredients on the labeling of its products.
Kraft claims the suit should be dismissed because the Food and Drug Administration permits phthalates in the food supply and doesn’t classify them as harmful chemicals.
“Plaintiffs’ claim that Kraft Heinz fails to disclose the presence of phthalates fails for two independent reasons. First, it is preempted by federal law, as the FDA has made clear that manufacturers need not disclose the presence of ‘[s]ubstances migrating to food from equipment or packaging or otherwise affecting food that are not food additives’…In light of that regulation, any attempt to require the disclosure of phthalates would necessarily exceed the disclosure requirements set forth by federal law—which renders Plaintiffs’ failure-to-disclose claim preempted. Second, Plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that the supposed presence of trace amounts of phthalates is material to a reasonable consumer, as they must allege to establish that Kraft Heinz was under a duty to disclose,” the defendants state in court documents.
Kraft is represented by Jenner & Block.