California residents have filed a putative nationwide class action against Late July Snacks LLC, alleging that the company’s snack products are misbranded because they include "organic evaporated cane juice" on their ingredient lists in violation of the state’s Sherman law, which incorporates the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Swearingen v. Late July Snacks LLC, No. 13-4324 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., San Francisco Div., filed September 18, 2013).
The plaintiffs contend that regardless whether the products actually contain sugar or dried sugar cane syrup as sweeteners, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that these terms, and not "evaporated cane juice," be used on product labels. They cite a 2000 FDA guidance letter and warnings that FDA subsequently provided to companies using the prohibited term on food labels. They assert that the state’s unfair competition law does not require that they relied on the labels in making their purchasing decisions, just that they would not otherwise have purchased an unlawful product, "absent the Defendant’s failure to disclose the material fact that the product was unlawful to sell or possess." Alleging violation of California’s unlawful business acts and practices law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, they seek restitution, injunctive relief, equitable remedies, attorney’s fees, costs, and interest.