Trader Joe’s Co. illegally mislabels its products to disguise the amount of sugar, preservatives and added colors they contain, according to a class action lawsuit filed Monday.
Customers Amy Gitson, Christine Vodicka and Deborah Ross allege in the Trader Joe’s class action lawsuit that the grocery chain recognizes that natural and health claims drive sales and actively promotes the “naturalness and health benefits” of its products. However, many of these products actually contain added artificial coloring, chemical preservatives and sugar not listed on the label.
For example, some of these products state they contain sugar in the Nutrition Facts panel, but “sugar” or “dried cane syrup” are not listed in the ingredients. Instead, Trader Joe’s lists “evaporated cane juice” as an ingredient despite the FDA specifically warning companies not to use this term because it is false and misleading, the class action lawsuit says.
The plaintiffs also say Trader Joe’s falsely pledges to its customers that its products are free from coloring and preservatives when in truth they contain undisclosed coloring agents and chemicals.
For example, Trader Joe’s French Village Strawberry Nonfat Yogurt utilizes beet juice as an added artificial ingredient, according to the class action lawsuit. Similarly, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles contain the chemical preservative tocopherols (TCP).
The Trader Joe’s class action lawsuit further claims the grocery store chain misleads consumers into believing its soy milk brand serves as a substitute for dairy milk.
The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a proposed class of all persons in the U.S. who, within the last four years, purchased Trader Joe’s food products labeled with the ingredient “Evaporated Cane Juice” or “Organic Evaporated Cane Juice;” containing added preservatives or artificial colors; or that misrepresented to be a form of milk.
It is seeking damages, restitution, disgorgement of profits and more for claims of untrue, misleading and deceptive advertising; unfair business practices and other claims.
The Trader Joe’s False Labeling Class Action Lawsuit case is Amy Gitson et al. v. Trader Joe’s Co., Case No. 13-cv-01333, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The plaintiffs are represented by Ben F. Pierce Gore of Pratt & Associates.
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