A proposed class action alleges Welch Foods, Inc. has misled consumers by stating its juice products contain “No Artificial Flavors.”
According to the case, the packaging and labeling of Welch’s juice products, including its “Light Concord Grape Juice Beverage” and “Light White Grape Juice Beverage,” are intended to give consumers the false impression that they are buying “a premium, all-natural juice product,” instead of one that contains artificial flavors.
Per the suit, Welch’s juice products are falsely and misleadingly labeled and advertised, making them misbranded under federal and state law.
“Both these products’ advertising claims that these products contain ‘No Artificial Flavors,’” the complaint says. “This statement is false. Both these products include artificial flavoring chemicals that simulate the advertised fruit flavors.”
Although the labels of Welch’s grape juice products display “lifelike illustrations” of fresh grapes and state that the beverages contain “no artificial flavors,” they contain a synthetic chemical flavoring agent identified in the ingredients lists as “malic acid,” the lawsuit attests. According to the suit, the malic acid Welch’s includes in its products is not naturally sourced but is instead “manufactured in a petrochemical factory from petroleum feedstocks.”
Because the malic acid, a synthetic chemical, “simulate[s] and “reinforce[s]” each of the Welch’s grape juice product’s characterizing fruit flavors, the front labels are required by law to disclose the presence of an artificial flavor “rather than misleadingly suggest that the Product’s flavor is conferred only by natural fruit juices,” the case argues.
The lawsuit further alleges the Welch’s products’ labeling violates federal and state food labeling requirements in that the drinks’ ingredients lists identify the malic acid component as only generic “malic acid” instead of its more specific, non-generic chemical name, dl-malic acid.
“Because Defendant uses a misleading and unlawful generic name for this ingredient, consumers have no chance to identify it as a synthetic chemical or to know that the Product is artificially flavored,” the complaint contends.
Moreover, the case claims the defendant’s representation that the products contain “no artificial flavors” is “even more deceptive” given the juices do contain an undisclosed artificial ingredient. Per the suit, federal and state consumer protection laws require that all food products containing artificial flavors disclose the presence of such “prominently on both the front and back labels.”
“Defendant fails to do so, deceptively and unlawfully persuading consumers that these Products are ‘naturally-flavored’ when they in fact contain artificial flavors,” the lawsuit says.
According to the case, consumers would not have purchased Welch’s grape juice products absent the defendant’s allegedly false and misleading labeling.
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