Flatout’s flatbreads are falsely advertised and labeled with respect to their usable protein content, a proposed class action claims.
The 37-page lawsuit against Flatout, Inc. says that since the company’s products are made with low-quality wheat protein, the items will provide nutritionally as little as half of their total protein quantity.
The case chides Flatout for failing to include in the nutrition facts panel on product labels a statement indicating the corrected amount of protein per serving, as calculated according to Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) methodology, and expressed as a percent daily value.
“Consumers reasonably expect that Defendant’s products will actually provide nutritionally the full amount of protein per serving claimed on the front of the package and stated in the protein quantity section of the [nutrition facts panel],” the suit says. “But Defendant’s products do not do so on account of their low protein quality.”
The list of Flatout flatbread products included in the lawsuit can be found here.
According to the lawsuit, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits label claims such as “6g Protein” unless a manufacturer also provides additional information in the nutrition facts panel about how much of the recommended daily value for protein the product will actually provide. The case says that this is because the FDA recognizes that the amount of protein declared on a product’s front label is likely to be an important factor to buyers, even though a reasonable consumer may not know the total amount of protein they need to ingest daily. Moreover, not all proteins are equal in their ability to meet human nutritional requirements, so a statement about the number of grams of protein a product contains is not enough to inform buyers about how much usable protein they are receiving, the complaint adds.
The suit explains that some proteins are deficient in one or more of the nine amino acids essential to human protein synthesis and/or are not fully digestible by the human gut. When the body uses up the least prevalent essential amino acid from a food, protein synthesis shuts down and the remaining amino acids mostly degrade into waste, the case says.
To measure protein quality, the FDA uses PDCAAS, which combines a protein source’s amino acid profile and its percent digestibility into a discount factor ranging from 0.0 to 1.0, the filing relays. When that factor is multiplied by the total protein quantity in a product, it shows how much protein is actually available to support human nutritional needs, the suit says.
“For example, a PDCAAS of .5 means that only half of the protein in that product is actually available to support human protein needs. If the product contained 10 grams total protein per serving, the corrected amount of protein would be only 5 grams per serving. As a result, protein products can vary widely in their ability to support human protein needs—even between two comparator products with the same total protein quantity.”
According to the case, wheat protein, such as the kind found in the Flatout flatbreads, has a PDCAAS score of between 0.4 and 0.5, meaning the defendant’s products provide far less than their total protein quantity. Although Flatout advertises its flatbreads with, for instance, a “6g Protein” claim, the product actually provides, in a form that humans can use, as little as two grams of protein, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit looks to cover all persons in California who bought any of the Flatout products listed on this page between July 15, 2018 and the present.
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