A California man has filed purported class actions against Nestle USA Inc. and General Mills Inc. claiming that both companies use trans fat in their products—specifically, General Mills’ baking mixes and Nestle’s coffee creamers—despite the availability of acceptable alternative ingredients without trans fat. Backus v. Gen. Mills Inc., No. 15-1964 (N.D. Cal., filed April 30, 2015); Backus v. Nestle USA Inc., No. 15-1963 (N.D. Cal., filed April 30, 2015).
Each complaint details the history and structure of partially hydrogenated oil (PHO), the products’ source of artificial trans fat. Plaintiff Troy Backus argues that the scientific consensus on PHO advises that “consumers should keep their consumption of trans fat ‘as low as possible’” because it allegedly causes cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other medical conditions. He also cites regulations limiting trans fats in California, New York City, Denmark and other jurisdictions as evidence that the substance is “inherently dangerous.”
The plaintiff argues that the companies’ “unfair, immoral behavior” violates California consumer-protection laws because they can earn higher profit margins by using PHO while competing manufacturers formulate their products with safer substances. The complaint also alleges that Nestle breaches an express warranty by advertising its creamer as containing “0g” of trans fat. Backus seeks class certification, restitution, an injunction, a corrective advertising campaign, damages, and attorney’s fees in both complaints.