A consumer has filed a putative class action against Ghirardelli alleging that the company deceptively advertised its white-chocolate products as containing chocolate, white chocolate or cocoa butter. Vega-Encarnacion v. Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., No. 15-1821 (D.P.R., filed June 16, 2015). Three of the products at issue in the complaint were the subjects of an October 2014 class action settlement open only to consumers who purchased the product “in the United States,” so the Puerto Rican consumer seeks to represent those similarly situated in U.S. territories. Additional details about the settlement appear in Issue 540 of this Update.
The complaint cites the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) definitions of “chocolate” and “white chocolate,” which include required levels of cacao-derived products such as cocoa butter. Ghirardelli’s white-chocolate products—baking chips, confectionary coating wafers and ground white chocolate flavor—do not contain any white chocolate as defined by FDA, but merely white-chocolate flavoring, the plaintiff argues. He seeks class certification, an injunction and damages for his allegations of breach of warranty and unjust enrichment.