Seeking to represent a nationwide class of consumers, a California resident has filed a consumer fraud class action against the Balance Bar Co., challenging its “All Natural” claims in light of product ingredients such as ascorbic acid, cocoa (processed with alkali), glycerine, sodium citrate, and xanthan gum. Sethavanish v. Balance Bar Co., No. 11-4547 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., San Francisco Div., filed September 13, 2011). She claims that she purchased different Balance Bar products since 2007 relying on the “All Natural” representations and paying more for the products “than she would have had to pay for other products that were not all natural.”

In her complaint, she notes that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the term “natural,” but contends that the agency “has established a policy defining the outer boundaries of the use of that term by clarifying that a product is not natural if it contains color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” The plaintiff then details in what ways the specified ingredients are artificial, artificially processed or otherwise synthetic.

Alleging economic damages only, the plaintiff brings claims for common law fraud; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices under California law; false advertising; violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act; and restitution based on quasi-contract or unjust enrichment. She seeks restitution, compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and costs, and “[a]n order requiring an accounting for, and imposition of, a constructive trust upon, all monies received by Balance Bar as a result of the unfair, misleading, fraudulent and unlawful conduct alleged herein.”