As consumers become more health-conscious big food chains have tried to meet this demand by producing food products with all-natural ingredients. However, some of these food chains have been taking advantage of these consumers by charging a premium price for falsely advertised all-natural food products.
In one such instance, The Sultzer Law Group represented a class of Plaintiffs against Pret A Manger (USA) Limited (“Pret”) for selling products believed to have been made with healthier and safer natural products but in reality, contained synthetic ingredients. Plaintiffs were willing to pay more for products they believed to be comprised of exclusively synthetic ingredients based on Pret’s advertising, packaging, and ingredient labels. Plaintiffs falsely believed Pret’s natural foods were free from genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”) and other synthetic ingredients, but they were not.
Judge Gregory H. Woods in the Southern District of New York, in relevant part, denied Pret’s Motion to Dismiss and allowed the case to proceed since advertising non-all-natural products as natural food products potentially violated New York’s deceptive business acts statutes. In coming to this conclusion, the Court, in citing the Amended Complaint, stated, “In today’s society, ‘[c]onsumers have become increasingly concerned about the effects of synthetic and chemical ingredients in food, cleaning products, bath and beauty products, and everyday household products.’” Moreover, consumers are, “willing to pay, and have paid, a premium for products branded ‘natural’ over products that contain synthetic ingredients.’” Consequently, the Court found that a “reasonable consumer” would interpret the references to “natural food” and “natural ingredients” on the labeling and advertising of Pret’s products to mean that the products did not include synthetic ingredients or GMOs.
Judge Woods determined that a reasonable consumer could have been misled in two ways. First, a reasonable consumer could have concluded that Pret’s products were free from GMOs, when in fact they use plants or plants derivatives created from GMOs. Second, that a reasonable consumer could have concluded that the products contained exclusively natural ingredients, when, in fact, the products also contained synthetic ingredients. It was also found that Plaintiffs suffered an injury since they paid a premium price for food products believed to be all-natural and without preservatives.
What does this mean for you? If you are someone who only eats food products made with natural ingredients and received a product made with synthetic ingredients, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Speak with our team today at (800) 552-0265 if you paid a premium price for a food product you were led to believe was made with all-natural ingredients.