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July 2, 2014 / Blake Gaines

Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Chocolate Mislabeling Claims Against Mars

On June 17, 2014, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh refused to dismiss a class action lawsuit alleging that Mars mislabeled calorie and nutrient information on M&Ms, Twix, Snickers, and Dove chocolates. The complaint attacks Mars’ advertisements that the chocolates are “natural source(s) of cocoa flavanols.”

The class representative, Phyllis Gustavson, claims to have spent over $25 dollars on these products, which purportedly violate Food & Drug Administration (FDA) requirements by using undefined terms, like “source,” and by making nutritional content claims for the nutrient flavanol without a fixed percentage of the established daily value.

Gustavson claims that the Mars chocolates in question cannot contain sufficient flavanols to meet the FDA’s requirements because the FDA has yet to establish a recommended daily value for flavanols. Mars filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that its advertisements simply inform customers that flavanols are naturally present in the chocolate, but at no specific level. Nevertheless, Judge Lucy Koh disagreed, denying Mars’ motion, stating that the term “natural source” arguably “implies that the nutrient is present in substantial quantities.”

Additionally, Gustavson claims that Mars violated FDA regulations by not including directions prompting customers to read the full nutrition information regarding the high levels of fat contained in the products located on the back of the packaging.

Gustavson also accuses Mars of not identifying “polyglycerol polyricinoleic acid” by its known name.  Mars made no efforts to challenge this claim.

If you or someone you know has been misled by nutritional representations made by Mars, you may be entitled to relief. Please call Khorrami Boucher, LLP for a confidential consultation.


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