San Francisco, CA: A consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed against Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., alleging its CranGrape and CranApple juice-based drinks are advertised as being free of artificial flavors when they are not.
Filed by consumer Crystal Hilsley, the lawsuit claims the two beverages contain artificially synthesized ingredients that qualify as artificial flavors under California law. However, the labelling on the front-of-package claims the products have “No High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Colors or Flavors.”
“Defendants’ marketing of the products reflects this knowledge of consumers’ preferences for natural products — not by making the products only with natural ingredients, but by concealing from consumers that the products contain artificial flavors,” the complaint states.
According to the complaint, to achieve its apple flavor, the CranApple drink includes DL-malic acid derived from petrochemicals, while the CranGrape drink includes a fumaric acid ingredient synthesized from petrochemical feedstocks to give the product its grape flavor. State and federal law require companies to disclose on front and back labels that products are artificially flavored, which Ocean Spray did not do, the plaintiff asserts.
Therefore, consumers could not know the drinks contained artificial flavoring, the plaintiffs states. Further, had she known the products contained artificial flavoring, Hilsley states she would not have bought the product. The complaint alleges violations of California consumer protection laws.
“Plaintiff, as a reasonable consumer, is not required to subject consumer food products to laboratory analysis, to scrutinize the back of the label to discover that the product’s front label is false and misleading, or to search the label for information that California law and federal regulations require be displayed prominently on the front,” the complaint states.
Hilsley seeks to represent a class of California residents who have bought the products or similar products with undisclosed artificial flavors, since January 1, 2011.
Hilsley is represented by David Elliot of The Elliot Law Firm. The case is Crystal Hilsley v. Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. et al., case number 3:17-cv-02335 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.