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August 29, 2012 / Christian Przybylowski

Dreyer’s Ice Cream False Advertising Class Action Moves Forward

Dreyer’s Ice Cream has lost its attempt to dismiss a new class action lawsuit contending that its Ice Cream products are mislabeled as “All Natural.”  A federal court judge in California recently ruled that the class action claims had sufficient merit to proceed, and denied Dreyer’s motion to dismiss.

According to the lawsuit, Dreyer’s is in violation of state and federal law by misrepresenting various ice cream products as being made with “All Natural Flavors.” Dreyer’s also sells premium ice cream under the Haagen-Dazs band which is labeled “All Natural Ice Cream.” The class action alleges that these ice cream products actually contain between one and five artificial or synthetic ingredients. Plaintiffs claim that had they known the truth about the products artificial and/or synthetic ingredients they would have purchased a different ice cream, one that was truly all natural, or at the very least a different non-natural ice cream that was cheaper.

Dreyer’s attempt to dismiss the class action was only partially successful. The federal claim under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act was dismissed. According to the Act a written warranty is:

any written affirmation of fact or written promise made in connection with the sale of a consumer product by a supplier to a buyer which relates to the nature of the material or workmanship and affirms or promises that such material or workmanship is defect free or will meet a specified level of performance over a specified time period.

The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the “All Natural” labels constitute a written warranty. The court found that it is well settled that “All Natural” labels on food products are product descriptors and not warranties against defect.  Even if they were, the court noted that a food is not defective just because it contains artificial or synthetic ingredients.

Plaintiff’s state law claims under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and the California Health and Safety code succeeded against the motion to dismiss and will be moving forward. Dreyer’s argued that one of the main ingredients in contention, cocoa alkalized with potassium carbonate, is a common ingredient in ice cream and was disclosed on the FDA mandated nutritional label. The court found that it is unreasonable to expect ice cream consumers to know that an alkalizing process is common. Additionally, a company cannot legally use the nutritional label to correct misleading packaging.

The class action continues under the California Business and Professions Code § 17200 (unlawful business practice) claim based on a violation of the FDCA and California Health & Safety Code § 110100(a).

If you or a loved one feels they have been misled consumer products manufacturers for false or deceptive food labels, please notify Khorrami, LLP for a confidential evaluation of your rights.


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