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Policy: Law

Class action says Whole Foods falsely marketed sugar content of Greek yogurt

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Food and Drink,Law,Legal Newsline

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) – A class action lawsuit has been filed against Whole Foods Market after class members claim its 365 Everyday Value Plain Greek Yogurt was falsely marketed at having only two grams of sugar per serving when it actually contained six times the labeled amount.

Tracey M. Knox claims Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Plain Greek Yogurt, which expressly states on the label that it contains two grams of sugar per serving, was falsely marketed, according to a complaint filed Aug. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse

John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse

“In fact, in six recent tests conducted by the venerable consumer publication Consumer Reports, the Yogurt had 11.4 grams of sugar per serving on average—nearly six times the stated amount,” the complaint states. “The claimed amount of sugar raised eyebrows because it is much lower than competitors, which generally range between five and 10 grams of sugar per serving.”

As a result of the defendant’s materially false statements concerning the sugar content in the yogurt, the plaintiff and the proposed class have been harmed and have suffered damages, according to the suit.

“One of the mottos of Whole Foods is ‘Health Starts Here.’ Defendant markets itself and its 365 brand products as a healthier alternative to other stores and brands,” the complaint states. “Defendant advertises and warrants the statements on its label and as they pertain to the Yogurt the statements are demonstrably false.”

Knox claims the yogurt market in the United States is enormous by any standard – it tops $7 billon dollars per year. Greek yogurt in particular comprises a major portion of the overall yogurt market, due in large measure to its high protein content and perceived health value over traditional yogurt.

“Among health conscious consumers, yogurt can be and is an important component of a healthy diet,” the complaint states. “For those with health conditions, such as diabetes, the accuracy of sugar content in products is extremely important. Defendant has a duty to provide accurate information on its product label and has failed to do so.”

The defendant is responsible and liable for, among other things, providing notice to consumers of accurate information concerning the sugar content of the yogurt and repayment of its ill-gotten gains, as well as other related consequential damages that resulted from the defendant’s provision of false and misleading information concerning the yogurt, according to the suit.

Knox claims on multiple times during the last several years, she has purchased the yogurt because of its purported health benefits, including the low sugar content.

Although the plaintiff was unaware of the Consumer Reports information concerning the false information the defendant provided about the yogurt at the time of the purchase, the plaintiff’s purchase occurred after the defendant was made aware of the discrepancies demonstrated by Consumer Reports’ testing, according to the suit.

“Despite notice of the discrepancy Defendant has not removed the yogurt from the shelves or provided any corrective notice to purchasers, like [the] plaintiff,” the complaint states.

Knox is seeking class certification and compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Erica C. Mirabella of Mirabella Law; Matthew E. Miller and William H. Anderson of Cuneo Gilbert & Laduca LLP; and Jon Herskowitz of Baron & Herskowitz.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Richard G. Stearns.

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts case number: 1:14-cv-13185

From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at classactions@legalnewsline.com.

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