Sheehan & Associates has filed another lawsuit concerning food labeling, this time aimed at retailer Whole Foods and their store-brand Organic Chocolate Ice Cream Bars. The suit alleges that the ingredients of what the packaging describes as organic chocolate does not truly meet what consumers like the plaintiffs expect from chocolate.
The complaint, brought on behalf of Kayla Cerretti and a putative class, argued that consumers expect chocolate to come from cacao beans. The filing recounted a history of an attempt by the confections industry to redefine chocolate with the Food and Drug Administration, allowing for the replacement of cacao ingredients with “cocoa butter equivalents.”
The measure failed, the complaint said, in part thanks to Mars Wrigley’s statement in favor of the traditional definition. The complaint added that the use of vegetable oils as equivalents has an effect on the final product that consumers can detect, such as a “waxy and oily mouthfeel.”
The plaintiff argued that the product in question is said to be dipped in organic chocolate, but the chocolate contains more palm oil, according to the ingridients list, than cacao products.
“Based on industry specifications for this type of ‘compound coating’ coupled with evaluation of the saturated fat and cholesterol content listed on the Nutrition Facts, the amount of vegetable oil in the Product appears to exceed the combined total of chocolate liquor and cocoa butter,” the complaint said.
The plaintiff argued that this was a cost-savings measure, but the savings were not passed onto the consumer. Moreover, they said the food’s label must reflect that the item’s coating is not truly organic chocolate.
The Northern District of Illinois lawwsuit seeks to certify both an Illinois class and another class featuring residents from eight other states. The suit alleges violations of Illinois consumer protection laws, breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment.