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Mrs. Smith’s Pies Contain More Palm Oil Than Butter, Says Class Action

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Mrs. Smith's Pie Package

Plaintiff Shatequa Leguette bought a Mrs. Smith’s Original Flaky Crust Pie, and the label on the package read, “Made with Real Butter”. Unfortunately, according to the allegations in this class action, the label would have been more accurate if it had added, “…but mostly made with palm oil!”

The class for this action is all persons in all states who bought any of the products bearing “any of the actionable representations herein” during the statute of limitations periods.

Mrs. Smith’s Original Flaky Crust Pies are made by Schwan’s Company. The complaint contends that a pie’s crust is the element most appreciated by consumers, and that the packaging emphasizes this with the prominent positioning of the words “Original Flaky Crust” followed by the words “Made with Real Butter”—with the words “Flaky Crust” and “Butter” larger than the flavor of the pie (in this case, Dutch apple).

Pie crust contains four main ingredients, flour, fat, salt, and water. The complaint claims that the most important of these is fat, because they have the biggest impact on flavor, texture, and color of the crust.

Also, the complaint claims that when consumers see the word “butter” so prominently represented, they are likely to believe that butter is the only, or at the least the primary, fat used in the pie. The ingredient labeling lists “shortening butter blend (palm oil, butter [cream, salt])”. (The next item listed is also palm oil.) According to the complaint, this means that the pie contains more palm oil than butter, and that the butter is part of a blend, so that no butter is even directly added to the crust.

The complaint contends that consumers who are drawn to a pie “made with real butter” would not have been similarly drawn to one that admitted it was primarily made with vegetable shortening, which it calls “an artificial product.”

The front label also reads, “No Artificial Sweeteners, Dyes, or Flavors” and “No High Fructose Corn Syrup”, which the complaint claims also add to the misleading impression, because they attract consumers who want natural products are aiming to avoid synthetic and processed foods—for example, vegetable oils converted to solids by hydrogenation.

The complaint claims that the prominently labeling about butter violates New York’s General Business Law and breaches express warranties and implied warrants of merchantability.

 

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