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Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Baking Mix Slack Fill California Class Action

Fleischmann's Cornbread Mix

Consumers expect packaging to help them understand the product, not to hide the truth about it. Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Banking Mix products come in opaque boxes, and the complaint for this class action claims that the product is roughly half the size of the box—in other words, that the boxes are hiding approximately 50% empty space.

The class for this action is all California residents who made retail buys of Fleischmann’s products in containers with non-functional slack fill, as defined by the California Business & Professions Code § 12606, during the applicable limitations period through the final judgment of this action.

A Nielsen study claims that the average consumer spends only thirteen minutes when making a purchasing decision in a store, or ten to nineteen minutes online. Consumer protection laws are designed to make sure that packaging doesn’t provide deceptive messages—for example about the amount of product contained in an opaque box. They often don’t read label information and assume that a larger box contains more product and is a better buy than a smaller box.

Consumer protection laws are designed to keep companies from using deceptive means to make consumers choose their products. The complaint quotes California’s Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (CFPLA) as saying, “No container shall be made, formed, or filled as to be misleading. A container that does not allow the consumer to fully view its contents shall be considered to be filled as to be misleading if it contains nonfunctional slack fill.”

Slack fill is empty space inside a container, which is sometimes needed. CFPLA permits fifteen instances in which slack fill is permitted, such as the following:

  • Protection of the contents.
  • The needs of machines used for enclosing the package.
  • Providing adequate space to present required labeling information.
  • Headspace necessary for mixing, adding, shaking, or dispensing liquids or powders.
  • The inclusion of a delivery or dosing device, if the device is visible.
  • The packaging contains computer hardware or software.

However, the complaint alleges that none of the fifteen instances applies to the Fleischmann’s products, making the 50% of empty space in the box non-functional slack fill, which can only mislead customers into thinking they’re getting more of a product than they are.

The complaint alleges that the product violates California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, its Unfair Competition Law, and its false advertising law. 

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