Class Action Filed Against Van’s International Foods for Misleading Labeling of their Protein Waffles

On Saturday, Molly Brown filed a complaint in the Northern District of California against Van’s International Foods, Inc. for the misleading labels of their Power Grains Protein Original Waffles for allegedly not having a reasonable amount of protein per serving.

On the label of Van’s waffles products, the complaint explained, the company claims the food contains “10g PLANT-BASED protein.” The plaintiffs argued that they would “reasonably expect that each product will actually provide the amount of protein per serving claimed on the front of the product package.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, not all proteins contain all nine essential amino acids; others contain proteins that humans cannot digest. In order to measure the quality of proteins, the FDA uses the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) which labels each protein on a scale from 0.0 to 1.0. A PDCAAS of 0.5 means that 50% of the protein contained in the product is digestible.

The complaint contends that Van’s waffles are illegally labeled since they do not contain a percent daily value of protein, which is required by FDA regulations. Furthermore, the PDCAAS of the wheats and oats in these waffles are 0.4-0.5, meaning that only 4-5 grams of protein, out of the 10 grams advertised per serving, are actually digestible and usable by the human body, per the complaint.

As a result, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants’ advertising is “unlawful, misleading, and intended to induce consumers to purchase the  Products at a premium price, while ultimately failing to meet consumer expectations.” Furthermore, by advertising that these products have increased protein, this allowed the defendants to charge more money for each box of their waffles for “premium” ingredients. Thus, the plaintiffs are suing for violations of the Business and Professions Code, Consumer Legal Remedies Act, common law fraud, and unjust enrichment. 

The plaintiffs are seeking class certification, injunctive relief permanently enjoining the defendants from continuing their unlawful business practices, compensatory damages, statutory damages, punitive damages, treble damages, restitution, and pre- and post-judgment interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Gutride Safier LLP.