A putative class action against Melitta USA Inc. alleges the company’s coffee product packaging fails to distinguish between “natural and/or artificial flavor” per federal regulations. Decerbo v. Melitta USA Inc., No. 16-0850 (M.D. Fla., filed April 11, 2016).
The plaintiff argues that under U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules, food manufacturers must “accurately identify or describe, in as simple and direct terms as possible, the basic nature of the food and its characterizing properties or ingredients,” including whether a characterizing flavor is natural or artificial. However, “‘Hazelnut Crème’ is not flavored with hazelnuts, there is no vanilla in ‘French Vanilla,’ and ‘Pumpkin Spice’ flavor contains neither nutmeg nor cinnamon, or pumpkin or any customary pumpkin spice either, as these Products’ labels would explicitly lead a consumer to conclude,” the complaint argues. The plaintiff further notes that other coffee-product manufacturers “have responsibly decided to correctly label their products,” purportedly giving the company an unfair advantage over competitors. She seeks class certification, restitution, disgorgement of benefits, damages and an injunction for alleged violations of consumer-protection statutes of New Jersey, of which the plaintiff is a resident.