A proposed class action filed this week challenges the protein content claims on products made by defendants Baker Mills, Inc. and Kodiak Cakes, LLC.
According to the 31-page lawsuit, Kodiak Cakes-branded products, despite being marketed to health-conscious consumers as “Protein Packed,” contain as much as 17 percent less protein than the amount stated on their labels.
Moreover, the suit alleges, when the products’ protein content is adjusted for digestibility based on the amino acid content, the foods will provide even less usable protein per serving than consumers would expect based on label representations. This is because Kodiak Cakes products contain “proteins of low biological value” to humans, such as pea protein and wheat protein, that do not contain a full set of amino acids and are not completely digestible, the lawsuit contests.
The case further claims the defendants have violated federal food labeling regulations by failing to state the percentage of the daily value of protein each serving of the products will provide. Without a clear disclosure of the products’ true protein content, consumers are misled into paying a premium price for a product that delivers less protein than expected, according to the suit.
Defendants’ advertising and labeling of the Products as containing and providing specific amounts of protein per serving is false, misleading, and intended to induce consumers to purchase the Products at a premium price, while ultimately failing to meet consumer expectations."
Less protein, you say?
According to the case out of Utah federal court, many of Kodiak Cakes’ breakfast and snack products contain less protein than the amount per serving “predominantly, uniformly, and consistently” stated on the foods’ labels.
In fact, as amino acid testing has allegedly revealed, the defendants’ products contain roughly 17 percent fewer grams of protein than the amount represented on their packaging, the lawsuit claims. This is compounded by the fact that the type of protein used in the products means the actual amount delivered to users may be even less, the lawsuit says.
“Defendants’ use of low quality proteins, even in combination with some higher quality proteins, means that they actually provide far less protein to humans than their labels claim, or that amino acid content testing without correcting for digestibility shows.”
A “complete protein,” the case explains, contains all nine essential amino acids—protein components that the human body cannot produce on its own and must therefore be obtained through diet. Essential amino acid content can be measured by the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), the suit says, which is a measurement required by FDA regulations for the calculation of Daily Reference Values. A fully digestible protein, such as whey protein, that contains all nine essential amino acids receives a PDCAAS of 1.0, the case relays.
According to the lawsuit, plant-based proteins, including the wheat and pea proteins added to Kodiak Cakes’ products, are not fully digestible by humans and typically have a PDCAAS of 0.3 to 0.4, which means only 30 to 40 percent of the protein from those sources will actually be usable by humans.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that because the defendants include a protein claim on their products’ labels—such as the “14g protein” statement on the front of their Buttermilk Flapjack and Waffle Mix box—they are required by federal labeling regulations to state the percentage of the daily value of protein provided in each serving. Further, regulations require that the percentage of daily value be calculated using the proteins’ PDCAAS to provide a more accurate representation of the food’s protein content, the case explains.
According to the suit, Kodiak Cakes’ failure to state protein content as a percentage of daily value further misleads consumers into believing the products contain more usable protein than they actually do.
Which products does the lawsuit say contain less protein than represented?
The lawsuit looks to cover any Kodiak Cakes product that makes a protein content claim on its label. A list of products can be found here, though some allegedly affected products may not be listed.
Who is the lawsuit looking to cover?
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in any state except California who purchased the Kodiak Cakes products anytime since April 13, 2017.
The case also proposes the following state-specific groups:
New York: anyone in New York who purchased the products since April 13, 2018
Florida: anyone in Florida who purchased the products since April 13, 2017
Illinois: anyone in Illinois who purchased the products since April 13, 2018
What if I live in California?
At this time, the lawsuit is not looking to cover those who purchased the products in California.
If you live in California and you’re interested in taking legal action against Kodiak Cakes, you may want to consider reaching out to an attorney in your area to find out more about your legal rights and options.
How do I join the lawsuit?
There is typically nothing you need to do to join a class action lawsuit when it’s first filed. If the case moves forward and settles, that’s when those affected, i.e., the “class members,” should receive notice of the settlement and have an opportunity to claim whatever compensation the court deems appropriate.
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