Law Street Media

Mars Sued Over Altoids Flavor Advertising

Food making its way along a conveyor belt in a factory.

Automated production line in modern food factory. Ravioli production. People working.

Brent Scruggs has filed a complaint against Mars, Inc for false advertising. The complaint argues that Altoids Cinnamon Mints’ packaging advertises that the product contains cinnamon when, according to the plaintiff, it does not. 

As described and depicted in the complaint, numerous mint manufacturers include natural cinnamon flavor in their cinnamon mint. Thus, Scruggs alleges, it is reasonable for customers to expect that Altoids Cinnamon Mints also contain cinnamon. 

Furthermore, the box for said product depicts an image of cinnamon sticks, which the plaintiff argues imply the mints contain cinnamon, per the complaint.

Taken together, Scruggs argues that these actions violate California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, California’s False Advertising Law, California’s Unfair Competition Law, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The regulations at issue, the complaint says, state that if a food’s labeling depicts any image of the primary recognizable flavors, like a depiction of a spice, and if the food contains any artificial flavor which simulates the depicted flavor, the product’s packaging must contain language disclosing that the flavor is artificial. The image of the Altoids box shown in the complaint contains the words “artificially flavored.”

The plaintiff seeks a class action designation because he and many others would not have paid a premium for the aforementioned mints had they known that they did not contain real cinnamon, and the damages to each individual class member would be so small as to not justify an individual suit.

Scruggs seeks class action certification with himself as the class representative, an injunction to prevent Mars from selling Altoids Cinnamon Mints, compensatory and punitive damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees as deemed equitable by a jury trial. The complaint was filed in the Central District of California, Western Division, where Brent Scruggs has “sufficient minimum contacts… or otherwise intentionally availed itself of the markets.” He is represented by Custodio and Dubey, LLP.

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