Vanilla Flavoring Suit Against Wegmans Dismissed

An opinion filed Friday in the Southern District of New York halted a bid by a consumer to hold grocery chain Wegmans responsible for allegedly misleading packaging on food items. According to Judge Nelson Stephen Roman, the product at issue, Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix, was not labelled in a manner that would mislead a reasonable consumer.

According to the judge, the plaintiffs argued that the item’s name and label are misleading “because the Product is not mainly flavored from vanilla, contains artificial flavors, and does not taste like vanilla.” They brought claims under New York’s General Business Law as well as common law other claims like fraud and unjust enrichment.

The plaintiff relied on the product’s ingredient label, which only lists “Natural Flavor” as a flavoring ingredient. According to them, that claim is contradicted by laboratory testing which reveals that vanillin and ethyl vanillin are present as flavoring agents. The court rejected these arguments, holding that the complaint fails to support its claims that consumers expect a product labelled as “vanilla” and “naturally flavored” to only contain natural vanilla.

The judge also rejected the plaintiff’s claims that the ingridient list was misleading, and that the defendants breached an express warranty.

While the judge dismissed all claims, he did grant the plaintiff leave to amend their complaint by February 28.

The plaintiffs are represented by Sheehan & Associates. The defendants are represented by Foley Hoag.