A proposed class action contends that Mondelez Global’s Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies are misleadingly labeled in that their ingredients are inconsistent with what buyers would expect from a product touted as “shortbread.”
According to the 16-page lawsuit, although shortbread, as consumers understand it, is usually made with butter, flour and sugar and contains no leavening agent, the Lorna Doone cookies substitute vegetable oils for butter and contain baking soda. The result, the suit argues, is a product that “lacks the nutritional, organoleptic, and sensory attributes of shortbread.”
The case claims Mondelez has violated food labeling laws by erroneously representing the product as “Shortbread Cookies” while failing to state on the front label that the cookies lack the characterizing butter ingredient consumers expect to find in shortbread.
“The front label fails to inform consumers that if they want ‘Shortbread Cookies,’ they will have to supply their own butter, and somehow remove the baking soda,” the filing charges, claiming buyers have overpaid for a product that was worth less than its represented value.
The lawsuit states that federal food labeling regulations require products’ front labels to include a “common or usual name” that describes, “in as simple and direct terms as possible, the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties or ingredients.” Per the suit, the Lorna Doone cookies’ front label—which includes the description “Shortbread Cookies” and, in some versions of the packaging, a statement that the product provides a “Melt in your Mouth Taste”—falsely implies that the snack contains the ingredients normally expected to be in a food labeled with the common or usual name of “shortbread,” namely butter and excluding a leavening ingredient.
The product’s ingredients list reveals, however, that the cookies contain no butter at all and that the shortening is provided “exclusively” by canola and palm oil, according to the case. Moreover, the product contains baking soda, a leavening ingredient not normally found in shortbread, the lawsuit alleges.
The presence of vegetable oils as a substitute for butter renders the defendant’s “Melt in Your Mouth” statement false and misleading given vegetable oils do not melt at mouth temperature and “leave a waxy mouthfeel,” the case attests.
Further, the Lorna Doone cookies allegedly contain an artificial butter flavor that the lawsuit claims should have been disclosed on the product’s front label.
The complaint contends that consumers would not have purchased the Lorna Doone cookies, or would have paid less, had they known the truth about the product’s ingredients.
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