On Monday, Agnita Cheah filed a complaint in the Eastern District of New York against Pepperidge Farm, Inc. for falsely advertising their “Harvest Wheat” products as containing predominantly whole grains when, according to the complaint, it actually largely contains refined grains.
The complaint began by claiming that, over the years, more consumers have come to prefer whole grains over refined grains, and value them more in food products. Whole grains contain “important nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as iron, zinc, folate, magnesium” as well as other vitamins and healthy ingredients. However, refined grains remove the bran and germ of grains, which are the parts that contain these ingredients.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest “noted that terms such as ‘harvest grain’ was misleading to consumers,” as evidenced by the fact that the Harvest Wheat products only contain 4% of the Daily Value of fiber since the main ingredient is enriched wheat flour, and not whole wheat flour.
Since enriched flour is white, consumers usually look for darker colors to indicate whole grains. However, the Harvest Wheat products allegedly “contain several ingredients which alter its physical appearance” so they appear to have high amounts of whole grains. Thus, the plaintiff claimed that Pepperidge Farm is deceptively advertising their products in order to sell them at a premium price.
As a result, the plaintiff is suing on the counts of 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 Pepperidge Farm to remove, correct and/or refrain from the challenged practices and representations, monetary damages, statutory and/or punitive damages, restitution and disgorgement, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.
Cheah is represented by Sheehan & Associates, P.C.