On April 11, 2021, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York against grocery store chain Whole Foods Market Group Inc. (“Whole Foods”) alleging that it engages in false, deceptive and misleading advertising in relation to its Lemon Raspberry Italian Sparkling Mineral Water (“the Product”), which depicts pictures of fresh lemons and raspberries on the label.
In the complaint, named plaintiff Kevin Kelly asserts that when consumers purchase the Product, they reasonably expect that it will contain lemon and raspberry as the main ingredients, based on the labeling of the product. However, the plaintiff argues that the sparkling mineral water contains only small amounts of these ingredients. The complaint alleges that Whole Foods is attempting to take advantage of consumers’ preference for products that derive their taste from food ingredients rather than added flavor, because this is perceived as more natural and less processed, while avoiding exposure to additives or solvents.
The plaintiff also argues that Whole Foods is seeking to appeal to consumers’ desire for healthy foods and the value placed on the health benefits of lemons and raspberries. For example, lemons are high in vitamin C and are frequently linked to reduced weight gain. Similarly, raspberries also contain vitamin C and potassium, which is essential to heart function and controlling blood pressure.
The plaintiff is seeking to represent a class made up of all purchasers of the product who reside in New York, Wyoming, Maine, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Delaware and Ohio. The suit brings causes of action for violation of the New York General Business Law Section 349 & 350, breaches of express warranty, implied warranty of merchantability and Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment.
The case is: Kevin Kelly v. Whole Foods Market Group Inc., Case No.: 1:21-cv-03124, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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