Trader Joe’s Company and Trader Joe’s East, Inc. are the defendants in a proposed class action lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleges the companies’ fruit bars contain more ingredients—and are made through a more intensive process—than suggested by the products’ labels. According to the complaint, Trader Joe’s promotes that the bars as made solely from the ingredients listed on the products’ labels (i.e., “Apple, Mangoes”)—which the lawsuit insists dually suggests the process through which the bars are made includes minimal additions to or manipulation of their raw fruit materials. Consumers reasonably rely on these depictions, according to the lawsuit, and as a result are under the impression the treats “are made by taking whole intact fruits, washing dicing or chopping, expressing juice, etc., then [molding] or shaping together” to form what’s available on store shelves.
“By listing ingredients with a collective name, a reasonable consumer gets the impression that the raw material used for the product existed in its whole, intact form at the direct point prior to the production of the products.
This gives consumers the impression that the products are necessarily fresher and healthier, because their purported component ingredients were not made years ago, and do not contain preservatives, which may be necessary if they remained on a warehouse shelf until the time they were used in the products.
It is misleading to list ingredients with a collective name because consumers are unable to distinguish the value, quality and nature of the actual ingredients prior to purchase.
This is especially relevant and material as consumers increasingly seek products made from whole, unprocessed ingredients as opposed to by-products or processed derivative ingredients.
The Products’ listing of ingredients through the collective name of the fruits is deceptive, unlawful and misleading to reasonable consumers.
This is because the Products are not made through converting whole, intact fruits into the final product.”
The case notes that if Trader Joe’s truly began its production process with whole fruits, the bars’ ingredient lists would note the presence of “an additional binding ingredient” needed to keep the fruit matter together. On its way out, the lawsuit picks at another alleged omission from Trader Joe’s ingredient labels.
“The Products do not indicate the presence of water in the ingredient list, which is misleading,” the case adds.