Starbucks has misled customers by touting vanilla as the ingredient that provides the characterizing flavor for its vanilla Frappuccino beverage, a proposed class action claims.
The 15-page lawsuit alleges the vanilla flavor of the popular Starbucks Frap comes not from real vanilla as represented, but from “natural flavor.” Per the complaint, the product—which the coffee giant labels officially as “Vanilla With Other Natural Flavors Starbucks Frappuccino Chilled Coffee Drink”—is mislabeled under federal and state laws and regulations since consumers are not informed that vanilla is merely a flavor, and not an ingredient.
“Plaintiff and the Class purchased Defendant’s Product on the reasonable, but the mistaken, belief that the Product contained vanilla as an ingredient,” the suit, filed in Massachusetts federal court, claims.
More specifically, Starbucks’ labeling of its “vanilla” Frappuccino as if it contains vanilla as an ingredient is “deceptive, misleading, and unjust” in that no reference is made to any wording that would inform a customer that vanilla is not an ingredient in the product, the case says. Customers rely on the label of the Frappuccino to “honestly state the nature of its ingredients,” according to the lawsuit.
Under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a food is deemed “misbranded” if any representation is false or misleading, the suit relays. Massachusetts food labeling law, which the case says is identical to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, also provides that a food is considered misbranded if anything on its label is false or misleading, per the suit.
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