When consumers buy a blueberry bagel, the complaint for this class action claims, they expect that the blue-colored lumps in it are blueberries. But the complaint alleges that the blue things in Panera Bread Company’s blueberry bagels are mostly dyed lumps of sugar and flour. According to the complaint, the bagels are misbranded to make customers think they are bagels with real blueberries.
The class for this action is all buyers of the blueberry bagel product during the applicable limitations period, and/or any subclasses that the court may deem appropriate.
The complaint claims that Panera’s blueberry bagels do not contain actual fresh blueberries. Instead, they contain “blueberry flavored bites” and dried blueberries.
The main ingredients in the blueberry flavored bites are sugar and flour, with some “blueberry solids” and other ingredients that are “colored with fruit juice” and have natural flavor. The listing of sugar and flour first means that the bites contain more sugar and flour than blueberry materials.
The dried blueberries contain wild blueberries, cane sugar, natural flavor, citric acid, and sunflower oil. However, the fact that the bites come first in the ingredient list means that the bagels contain a greater volume of bites than of dried blueberries.
The complaint quotes the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), which says that a food is misbranded “if it is an imitation of another food, unless its label bears, in type of uniform size and prominence, the word ‘imitation’ and, immediately thereafter, the name of the food imitated.” The charge of misbranding still holds, the complaint says, whether or not there was intent to mislead.
State laws mirror this federal law, the complaint says, and at times incorporate it, as in the case of New York law. It quotes the relevant passages from New York’s laws that make the FDCA standards apply.
The complaint also points out that Panera’s blueberry muffins are listed as containing fresh blueberries, indicating that the company does know that consumers value the difference between real, fresh blueberries and imitation substitutes.
The complaint claims that Panera has violated New York’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and False Advertising law, and committed common law fraud, among other things. It asks for an injunction to stop Panera from selling the bagels as blueberry bagels, for compensatory and punitive damages, restitution, and “all other forms of “equitable monetary relief.”