Stauffer’s brand “Lemon Snaps” are at the center of a proposed class action lawsuit that claims the cookies are misleadingly labeled in that they contain less real lemon flavor than represented on product packaging.
Filed against DF Stauffer Biscuit Co Inc., the 11-page lawsuit out of New York notes that the front packaging of the lemon cookies boasts a picture of “freshly picked lemons” below the “Lemon Snaps” product name. These representations, according to the case, lead consumers to reasonably believe that lemon is the characterizing flavor of the product. Further, the suit explains that absent any language regarding flavor, consumers expect the cookies to be flavored with only real lemon ingredients. As the complaint tells it, the lack of qualifiers preceding the product’s characterizing lemon flavor is a reasonable indicator for consumers:
“Where a product designates its characterizing flavor as ‘Lemon’ without any qualifying terms – flavored, with other natural flavors, artificially flavored – consumers get the impression that its lemon taste is contributed only by the characterizing food ingredient of lemons, in the form of an exclusively lemon ingredient, i.e., lemon oil and/or lemon extract.”
In truth, the case contends, Stauffer’s Lemon Snaps contain artificial flavors, as revealed in the product’s ingredients list.
The lawsuit alleges that the term “natural and artificial flavor” indicates that the cookies are not exclusively flavored with real lemon ingredients but also contain non-lemon flavor components to “simulate, resemble, reinforce, enhance or extend” the characterizing lemon flavor. Moreover, the case says, consumers were misled by the presence of the food coloring yellow #5 in the Lemon Snaps cookies, which the case argues was intended to make the product appear “a shade closer” to real lemons.
According to the case, the presence of non-lemon artificial flavors in Stauffer’s Lemon Snaps is material to consumers in that they seek to avoid such “for reasons including nutrition, health and/or the avoidance of chemicals and highly processed ingredients.”
The lawsuit alleges that the defendant’s misleading representations took advantage of consumers’ “cognitive shortcuts made at the point-of-sale”—i.e. not reading the ingredients list on the back of the label—and consumers’ trust of the defendant, which the case describes as “a well-known and respected brand in this sector.”
The suit claims consumers were harmed by Stauffer’s “deceptive, unlawful, fraudulent, and unfair” conduct in that they paid a premium price for a product they would not have purchased, or would have paid less for, had they known the truth about its flavoring components.