A proposed class action alleges Trader Joe’s has misrepresented to consumers the nature of the strawberry filling in its Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries.
The 18-page suit contends that Trader Joe’s representations of the product, including images of strawberries on the packaging and the claim the pastries’ filling is made with only strawberries, are misleading in that they give buyers the mistaken impression that the filling contains a greater relative and absolute amount of strawberries than it actually does.
The lawsuit alleges Trader Joe’s representations of its strawberry-flavored Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries violate federal and Illinois food labeling laws given they mischaracterize the product’s predominant fruit filling ingredient.
“The Product’s common or usual name of ‘Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries – Strawberry’ is false, misleading, and deceptive because the predominant fruit filling ingredient is apples, shown on the ingredients list as ‘Apple Puree Concentrate,’” the lawsuit claims, adding that the toaster pastries, according to their ingredients list, also contain more corn starch than strawberries.
Whether the fruit content of a toaster pastry includes only strawberries, mostly strawberries or merely some strawberries supplemented by fruit ingredients of lesser value is “basic front label information” that’s material to consumers making purchasing decisions, the lawsuit says. Given strawberries are the Trader Joe’s toaster pastries’ characterizing ingredient, the amount of the fruit found in the product has a material bearing on price and consumer acceptance, the case states, and buyers expect strawberries to be present in the product “in an amount greater than other fruits.”
The suit, pointing to the product’s ingredients list, notes that apple puree concentrate is listed before strawberry puree concentrate, meaning the former exists in the toaster pastries in a greater quantity than the latter. Moreover, the inclusion of “strawberry flavor” in the ingredients list indicates that the amount of strawberry ingredients in the product is “insufficient not merely to provide the nutrient benefits of strawberries but to provide strawberry taste,” the lawsuit says.
Overall, the name of the product—Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries – Strawberry—is required but fails to include the percentage of strawberry ingredients in relation to apple ingredients, the suit argues. Per the case, consumers who see Trader Joe’s strawberry-centric product labeling would be more likely to buy the toaster pastries over similar items from competitors who disclose their product as “naturally and artificially flavored.”
“Reasonable consumers must and do rely on a company to honestly identify and describe the components, attributes, and features of a product, relative to itself and other comparable products or alternatives,” the lawsuit reads.
Lastly, the case claims Trader Joe’s product labeling is misleading given it does not disclose the addition of artificial coloring other than in the ingredients list, even though it is required to.
Trader Joe’s has been able to sell more of the toaster pastries, and at higher prices, that it would have in the absence of “this misconduct,” and consumers would not have bought the products, or would have paid less for them, had they known the company’s product labeling was not accurate, the lawsuit alleges.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter here.