A California resident has filed a putative class action against Smart Balance, Inc., alleging that the 100 mg of plant sterols in a single serving of the company’s spreadable butter products do not, as advertised, block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Aguilar v. Smart Balance, Inc., No. 12CV1862L BGS (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Cal., filed July 27, 2012). The named plaintiff seeks to represent either a multi-state class of consumers or a California class.  

According to the complaint, studies show that, to reduce cholesterol, “a minimum of 0.8 grams, and preferably 2 grams, of plant sterols must be consumed daily.” Given the purportedly modest amount of sterols in the defendants’ products, the plaintiff claims that half a container would need to be consumed in one day “to realize even the minimum amount of cholesterol reduction benefit.” The plaintiff claims that she purchased the product relying on the cholesterol benefit representations and did not get the benefit of her bargain. “Had Plaintiff known the truth about Defendants’ misrepresentations and omissions, she would not have purchased Smart Balance Light Butter & Canola Oil.”  

Alleging violations of the state’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and breach of express warranty, the plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $5 million, restitution, disgorgement, injunctive relief, a corrective advertising campaign, attorney’s fees, and costs.