Class Action Claims KIND Breakfast, Snack Foods Contain Less Protein than Stated on Product Labels
by Erin Shaak
Chong et al. v. KIND LLC
Filed: June 11, 2021 ◆§ 3:21-cv-04528
KIND LLC’s breakfast and snack foods are falsely advertised in that they do not contain as much protein as represented on product labels, a class action alleges.
KIND LLC’s breakfast and snack foods are falsely advertised in that they do not contain as much protein as represented on product labels, a proposed class action alleges.
According to the suit, amino acid testing has shown that KIND products not only contain less protein than advertised on the front of their packaging but use proteins “of low biological value” to humans, such as oats. When the amino acid content of the defendant’s breakfast and snack products—including KIND’s cereals, nut bars, nut clusters, protein bars, energy bars, granola, snack mix, nut butter bars and oatmeal—is adjusted for protein digestibility, the items contain even less protein than consumers expect, the lawsuit alleges.
The case further argues that some KIND products are misbranded under state and federal regulations in that their labeling includes protein content claims without stating the required percentage of the daily value of the protein on the nutrition facts panel. The lawsuit claims the defendant’s misrepresentations and misbranding of its products have caused consumers to overpay for foods that were worth less than what they bargained for.
“Defendant’s 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,” the complaint scathes.
The 32-page case out of California centers on KIND-branded breakfast and snack products that state on their front label a specific amount of protein per serving that the foods purportedly provide. The lawsuit claims the defendant’s protein statements are meant to appeal to health-conscious consumers, including athletes, registered dieticians and coaches, who are looking to maintain a healthy amount of protein in their diet.
A “complete protein,” according to the suit, consists of all nine essential amino acids, i.e., amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own and must be obtained through a person’s diet. Per the case, plant proteins, which comprise “nearly all the protein” in the defendant’s products, rarely contain all nine essential amino acids and are not fully digestible by humans. As such, around only 50 to 60 percent of the protein in KIND products will be digested and available to humans, the suit alleges.
According to the complaint, amino acid testing has revealed that the defendant’s products contain significantly less protein than stated on the foods’ labels. For example, the complaint says that while KIND Dark Chocolate Clusters purport to contain 10 grams of protein, the product actually contains about 8.4 grams of protein, or 20 percent less than the stated amount.
Moreover, the lawsuit alleges certain of the defendant’s products, including its nut bars, nut clusters, cereals and oatmeal, make protein content claims without stating the percent daily value of protein provided per serving. Despite being required by state and federal regulations to use amino acid testing to calculate the protein content of its products, KIND has, in some cases, left the nutrition facts column for protein “completely blank,” the suit says. As a result, the products are misbranded and therefore “legally worthless,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit claims KIND is able to increase sales and bolster its profits by labeling its products as containing more protein than they actually do.
The case looks to cover anyone in California who purchased KIND products that make a protein claim anytime since June 11, 2017.
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