The maker of Fireball whisky is currently dealing with litigation stemming from confusing labels on its beverage packaging. The beverage behemoth offers two different beverages with very similar yellow and red labels: (1) Fireball Cinnamon Whisky - a whisky and (2) Fireball Cinnamon - a malt beverage. The malt beverage contains lower alcohol content than the whisky counterpart.
While the labels are very similar - both containing a yellow background with a fire breathing creature and the arched Fireball brand name, the malt beverage also includes the phrase "malt beverage with natural whisky and other flavors and caramel color” in smaller print. The plaintiff, a disgruntled consumer named Anna Marquez of Chicago (who thought she was buying Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, when she really purchased Fireball Cinnamon), claims that "natural whisky" on the Fireball Cinnamon packaging makes consumers think that this is a reference to the spirit whisky, as opposed to a whisky-flavor that is added to the malt beverage.
This underscores the importance of clear labeling and packaging of products to avoid liability for claims of consumer fraud, breaches of express or implied warranties, and misrepresentation.
The lawsuit said that “natural whisky and other flavors” was “a clever turn of phrase” because people might misread it as “natural whisky,” thinking it was a reference to the spirit, and not understand that it was a flavor.
The lawyer who filed the lawsuit, Spencer Sheehan, has filed more than 400 lawsuits targeting food and beverage companies, NPR reported in 2021. Many of these lawsuits accuse companies of misleading product labeling, such as foods described as vanilla-flavored, but that actually use synthetic vanilla instead of vanilla beans or vanilla extract.