- Spencer Sheehan, a well-known class-action attorney, has filed a pair of class-action lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that mint flavored products which do not contain mint are deceptively labeled.
- The first lawsuit alleged that a "mint chocolate chip ice cream" statement of identity is misleading to consumers where the product's flavor is derived from "natural flavor" and not any mint or mint-containing ingredient. The product also contains images of mint leaves on the front panel. As support for the allegation that the lack of mint is deceptive, the complaint cites to the ice cream flavoring regulation ( 21 CFR 135.110(f)(2)), which requires that the term "flavored" (e.g., mint flavored) be used where a product contains a natural flavor which predominates.
- The second lawsuit alleged that consumers are misled by a gum product which is labeled as "original flavor" with a backdrop of what appears to be a blue mint leaf, but which only contains "natural and artificial flavor," and no mint-based ingredients. Plaintiff, citing to the general flavoring regulation (21 CFR 101.22), alleged that the product should have been labeled as "naturally and artificially flavored mint" and that the failure to disclose the flavor or include the other qualifiers is misleading.
- Although Plaintiffs have alleged technical violations of FDA's labeling regulations, courts have consistently held that a reasonable consumer may not be aware of the intricacies of FDA's labeling regulations and that therefore a technical labeling violation is not in itself sufficient to show that a reasonable consumer would be misled.
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