Consumer claims “Ancient Grain” label is misleading due to modern ingredient list  

Everything Old …

Since the mid-1990s, ancient grains – spelt, millet, kamut, teff, sorghum, barley, quinoa and others – have been gaining in popularity among health food enthusiasts. These grains are supposedly free of the negative effects of hybridization and genetic manipulation that affect modern grains like corn, wheat and rice, having suffered very little change since man first indulged in agriculture 10,000 years ago.

Although there’s ongoing debate regarding their claims, proponents put forward a number of health benefits that accrue from consuming ancient grains, including improved digestion, antioxidant effects and improved heart health.

Today, ancient grains are a big business, representing a significant part of the gluten-free market, which is predicted to grow to $4.9 billion early in the next decade. They’re so popular, in fact, that General Mills introduced its own “Cheerios + Ancient Grains” product.

Tough Teff Tiff

“Ancient Grain Twists,” a product offered under Majans America’s “Majans Bhuja Snacks” product line, is one of many products trading on the craze. But in February 2018, Majans found itself in the sights of a class action lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of New York that takes exception to its name.

Danielle Louis, a Brooklyn, New York, resident, claims that after purchasing the product – with the expectation that it was wholly made of ancient grains – she examined the ingredient list and discovered that the twists contained rice and peas, two ingredients that are not ancient. In addition, peas, she pointed out, are not grains but legumes.

The Takeaway

Louis and her class allege fraud and unjust enrichment under the New York General Business Law, and they seek preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, monetary damages, costs and expenses.