Strawberries are seen for sale on a fruit and vegetable stall at Alsager market, Stoke-on-Trent, Britain, August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Yates

Pop-Tart torts: Fruit-flavored litigation heats up

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  • Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP
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  • Morrison & Foerster LLP
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    (Reuters) – Strawberries are filled with well being advantages, wealthy in nutritional vitamins and antioxidants that may guard towards most cancers, hypertension and coronary heart illness.

    However (shocker) that doesn’t imply the berries can rework frosted Pop-Tarts right into a well being meals.

    Maybe that’s why a collection of putative class actions concentrating on Kellogg Gross sales Co for not placing sufficient strawberries into its toaster pastries strikes me, in some methods, as comical. In any case, it’s not as if including a smidge extra berries is prone to magically shield Pop-Tart eaters from severe illnesses.

    Bummer, I do know.

    Even Kellogg agrees, arguing in court docket papers that “reasonable consumers do not buy Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts because they believe they are high in antioxidants or Vitamin C.”

    (Personally, I believe they purchase them as a result of they’re lined in sugary icing and sprinkles and are scrumptious when served heat with a glass of milk. However I digress.)

    Nonetheless, plaintiffs lawyer Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates in Nice Neck, New York, does have a degree concerning the obligation to offer correct meals labeling. “It’s the most basic, simplest, fairest thing to do. Tell people what they’re getting,” he mentioned.

    Sheehan instructed me he’s “not expecting to find a fresh strawberry inside” a Pop-Tart. However he argues that if the product known as “Strawberry Pop-Tart,” then strawberries needs to be the No. 1 fruit within the filling.

    As a substitute, he alleges in his Oct. 19 complaint that strawberries are available behind cheaper dried pears and apples within the checklist of substances. Amongst shopper regulation and breach of guarantee claims are allegations of negligence and fraud.

    “The product’s common or usual name of ‘Whole Grain Frosted Strawberry Toaster Pastries,’ is false, deceptive, and misleading, because it contains mostly non-strawberry fruit ingredients,” he wrote within the grievance filed in Manhattan federal court docket.

    Furthermore, he wrote, the pastries are “unable to confer any of the health-related benefits of strawberries because the amount of strawberries is insufficient to provide the benefits of this fruit.”

    A Kellogg’s spokesperson in an e mail mentioned, “While we don’t comment on pending litigation, we can tell you the ingredients in and labeling of all of our Pop-Tart products fully comply with all legal requirements.”

    This isn’t Sheehan’s first Pop-Tart grievance towards Kellogg. In 2020, he focused the non-whole grain model of the strawberry toaster tarts with related allegations.

    Represented by Jenner & Block’s Dean Panos, Kellogg in that case hit again with a motion to dismiss that is presently pending earlier than U.S. District Decide Andrew Carter.

    Panos argues that “the labeling does not state, or even imply, that the product contains a specific amount of strawberries” and that strawberries are actually the predominant fruit ingredient.

    As for the well being claims, Panos, who didn’t reply to a request for remark, continued, “No reasonable consumer equates a Pop-Tart to a bushel of strawberries.”

    Gotta agree with him there.

    The fits are the newest in a protracted line of fruit-flavored litigation.

    In 2007, for instance, Kellogg dodged a category motion in Los Angeles federal court docket by a person who thought the corporate’s Froot Loops cereal contained actual fruit. Or “froot.”

    The allegation that “the cereal pieces themselves resemble fruit is not rational, let alone reasonable,” wrote now-retired U.S. District Decide Audrey Collins in tossing the swimsuit. “The cereal pieces are brightly colored rings which in no way resemble any currently known fruit.”

    A yr later, a lady sued Quaker Oats mum or dad Pepsico, alleging that Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries cereal was misleading as a result of it didn’t include actual berries.

    Ah sure, who doesn’t recall halcyon summer season days selecting crunchberries for jam or Thanksgiving turkey with crunchberry sauce?

    Proper.

    “This court is not aware of, nor has plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a ‘crunchberry,’” wrote now-Senior U.S. District Morrison England of the Jap District of California, who dismissed with the swimsuit with prejudice.

    However different instances have been more durable calls. For instance, U.S. District Decide Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles refused to dismiss a false labeling case towards Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in 2017 for claiming a few of its pastries contained actual fruit or maple syrup.

    “It is plausible that plaintiff will be able to show that reasonable consumers believe that ‘Raspberry-Filled’ doughnuts are filled with raspberries, ‘Maple Iced Glazed’ and ‘Maple Bar’ doughnuts contain maple syrup or maple sugar, and ‘Glazed Blueberry Cake’ doughnuts contain actual blueberries,” the choose wrote.

    Quickly after, the plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew their grievance, indicating a settlement.

    Plaintiffs attorneys from Faruqi & Faruqi didn’t reply to a request for remark.

    Krispy Kreme counsel from Morrison & Foerster declined to touch upon the case particularly, however affiliate Lena Gankin instructed me that “courts have held that reasonable consumers don’t expect that a product that has a given flavor equates to having that specific ingredient. Accurate and lawful product labels are important to consumers, but these cases are more about headlines than genuine consumer protection.”

    To make sure, the Pop-Tart case has acquired intensive publicity, as a result of who (together with me) doesn’t need to write about Pop-Tarts?

    Whether or not customers are literally upset concerning the proportion of strawberries within the filling is one other query. However the litigation is a reminder for corporations to watch out about how they describe their merchandise.

    Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

    Opinions expressed are these of the writer. They don’t mirror the views of Reuters Information, which, below the Belief Ideas, is dedicated to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.

    Jenna Greene

    Jenna Greene writes about authorized enterprise and tradition, taking a broad have a look at developments within the occupation, faces behind the instances, and quirky courtroom dramas. A longtime chronicler of the authorized trade and high-profile litigation, she lives in Northern California. Attain Greene at [email protected]