On Friday, Sandra Adams filed a complaint in the Middle District of Florida against The Kraft Heinz Company for allegedly deceptively labeling their MiO products as being made from natural ingredients, when they are actually made from artificial flavors.
The complaint argued that, as consumer awareness and concern have risen, “consumers increasingly strive to avoid artificial flavoring ingredients and seek to consume products with only natural flavors.” Kraft Heinz prominently displays on their MiO products that they are made with “natural flavor with other natural flavor,” which the plaintiff argued would convey that they are in fact made from only natural ingredients. However, the second most prominent ingredient is malic acid, with natural ingredients coming after it in terms of composition. MiO products use DL-Malic acid, which “is not equivalent to the natural flavor of those characterizing fruits and flavors” that contain other, naturally occurring forms of malic acid and is used to increase the sweetness of these water enhancers.
According to federal regulations that distinguish natural and artificial flavors, DL-Malic Acid is not considered natural which requires the labeling to include “artificial” or “artificially flavored” on the packages, per the plaintiff. The plaintiff also claimed that the defendant knew that DL-Malic Acid is artificial and thus falsely advertised their products. If the plaintiff and other reasonable consumers had known the truth, they would not have paid the same premium price for MiO water enhancers. As a result, the plaintiff is suing for violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, violations of state consumer fraud acts, breach of express and implied warranty, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment.
The plaintiff is seeking class certification, injunctive relief enjoining Kraft Heinz to correct the challenge practices to comply with the law, restitution and disgorgement, monetary damages, statutory and/or punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.