According to a proposed class action lawsuit, Ghirardelli’s “Classic White” Premium Baking Chips are represented by the company as real white chocolate when in truth the product contains no white chocolate at all.
The lawsuit alleges Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, self-described as “the number one premium brand of chocolate in the United States,” has developed a “loyal consumer base” by selling real white chocolate baking chips in the past. The case claims, however, that the company “at some point” switched out the genuine white chocolate chips for “fake white chocolate” made with hydrogenated and palm oils.
The defendant, the suit alleges, misleads consumers into thinking its Premium Baking Chips are made with real white chocolate by both calling the product “Classic White Chips” and placing it alongside other Ghirardelli baking products that actually contain real chocolate, such as the company’s “milk chocolate,” “bittersweet chocolate,” and “semi-sweet chocolate” varieties. Taken together, these representations would lead a reasonable consumer to believe the “Classic White” chips are made with real white chocolate, the lawsuit contends.
The case goes on to claim that despite the defendant’s representations, many customers cannot use Ghirardelli Classic White baking chips for their advertised purpose as the product “does not melt like chocolate.” Consumers are often left surprised to find that Ghirardelli’s “Classic White” baking chips don’t melt during baking, the complaint states.
The case notes that the FDA has set forth specific regulations with regard to what can be considered white chocolate in food products. While the lawsuit does not argue that the defendant has overstepped FDA regulations, the case claims customers have been misled by the product’s packaging into believing the Classic White Chips contain FDA-compliant white chocolate ingredients such as white chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa fat, or “other cocoa derivative.”
“Instead,” the complaint reads, “the Product contains: Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Whole Milk Powder, Nonfat Dry Milk, Palm Oil, Soy Lecithin, and Vanilla Extract.”
The suit claims Ghirardelli, in the face of numerous online consumer complaints, is well-aware that its packaging representations are misleading yet has refused to “dispel the consumer deception” by making label changes that would clarify the product’s contents, such as by adding “Vanilla Flavored Chips,” “Vanilla Chips,” “Does not contain chocolate,” or “not white chocolate” to packaging.
The lawsuit goes on to charge that Ghirardelli was put on statutory notice of the aforementioned claims on June 12, 2019 and thereafter altered images of the Classic White Chips on its official website to remove the reference to “Chocolate” under the brand name. The complaint includes what it claims is an unaltered image of the “Classic White” chips that was previously displayed on Ghirardelli’s website:
The lawsuit, echoing a similar suit against Nestlé over its Toll House “Premier White” morsels, seeks to cover anyone who purchased the product in the United States, or, alternatively, in California during the last four years.