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Pret A Manger Slack-Fill Deceptive Wrap Size Class Action

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Wrap Slack-Fill Gap

Pret A Manger sells a variety of appetizing sandwiches, wraps, and other ready-to-eat foods, but the complaint for this class action alleges that the opaque packaging for some of its wraps hide a secret—empty space, so that the wraps inside are significantly smaller than they look.

The class proposed for this action includes all persons or entities in the US who made retail purchases of the products during the applicable limitations period. The complaint also suggested an alternative class comprised of all persons or entities who made retail purchases of the products during the applicable period in New York.

The products involved in this case include the following Pret A Manger wraps:

  • Chakalaka Wrap
  • Greek Falafel Wrap
  • Green Goddess and Turkey Wrap
  • Avocado Pine Nut Wrap
  • Bang Bang Chicken Wrap
  • Mustard, Chicken and Swiss Wrap
  • Any other Pret A Manger wrap that packaged with concealed empty space in between the two halves

The wraps have been cut and repositioned, with the cut ends turned out so that the contents may be seen and the wrapped ends turned towards each other at the center. They are enclosed in a mostly-transparent packaging with a cardboard shroud around the center, where the wrapped ends meet—or do they? The complaint claims that this cardboard shroud hides anywhere from one inch to two and a half inches of empty space between the wrap ends, so that the wrap appears to be longer than it is.

This kind of space is called “slack-fill”—“the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein” as the Code of Federal Regulations puts it. It acknowledges that slack-fill may be legitimate when it’s there for any of the following reasons:

  1. Protection of the contents of the package;
  2. The requirements of the machines used for enclosing the contents in such package;
  3. Unavoidable product settling during shipping and handling;
  4. The need for the package to perform a specific function (e.g., where packaging plays a role in the preparation or consumption of a food)…;
  5. The fact that the product consists of a food packaged in a reusable container where the container is part of the presentation of the food…; or
  6. Inability to increase level of fill or to further reduce the size of the package (e.g., where some minimum package size is necessary to accommodate required food labeling…, discourage pilfering, facilitate handling, or accommodate tamper-resistant devices).

If the slack-fill does not have one of these functions, it’s considered non-functional slack-fill. The complaint alleges that Pret A Manger wraps’ slack-fill is non-functional and therefore a violation of the Federal Food Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA) as well as New York General Business Law regulations designed to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair trade practices. 

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