The package for Pepperidge Farm’s Texas Toast shows two thick slices of toasted bread with a yellow spread and parsley flakes, a fresh garlic clove and parsley leaf, pats of butter, and the words, “Made with real Garlic[,] Butter & Parsley.” It looks mouth-wateringly delicious—assuming, of course, that the yellow spread is butter. Unfortunately, the complaint for this class action alleges that most of it is palm and soybean oils, with added coloring, while butter makes up less than two percent of the product.
The Nationwide Class for this action is all consumers in the US who bought the products with actionable representations during the statutes of limitation. A New York State Class has also been proposed, for consumers living in New York.
The packaging for the product reinforces the idea of buttery freshness and goodness. The complaint reproduces the back panel, which says, “Welcome to the world of toasty, garlicky, buttery goodness!” The blurb beneath this line talks about Pepperidge Farm bakers starting with “thick hearty slices” of bread to which they add “great flavors from real ingredients, like garlic, butter and parsley.” Apparently, “great flavors from palm and soybean oils” doesn’t have quite the resonance they’re looking for.
But when you look at the ingredient panel, which the complaint also reproduces, you see this: “Enriched wheat flour (…), water, palm and soybean oils, contains 2 percent or less of: salt, butter (milk), soy lecithin, natural flavors, dehydrated parsley, malted barley flour, nonfat milk, annatto and turmeric extracts for color.”
As the complaint says, “No reasonable consumer expects that when they buy and consumer a product which has a deep association with butter, and touts its butter bona-fides on the front and back labels, butter will be present in such a minute quantity.” Also, “it is not expected that a product promoting the presence of butter will contain predominantly vegetable oils as its relevant lipid source.”
Vegetable oils, the complaint says, “lack the more than 120 naturally occurring flavor compounds” that butter has, and their higher melting point “results in a greasy aftertaste...” And clearly these are being colored with the last two ingredients, the “annatto and turmeric extracts for color.”
The complaint reviews the history of butter versus margarine and a recent preference for butter as a natural and high-quality food.
The complaint alleges violations of New York’s General Business Law for false, unfair, deceptive, and misleading representations, as well as negligent misrepresentation and breaches of warranties and fraud.