Does the Starbucks White Chocolate Doubleshot Energy Drink contain white chocolate? Should it? Or is the fact that it contains other somewhat similar flavoring ingredients enough? The complaint for this class action says no and argues that the drink is misbranded.
The Nationwide Class proposed for this action is all persons or entities in the US who made retail purchases of the product during the applicable limitations period. Alternatively, a New York Class has been proposed, of those who made retail purchases of the product in New York.
The complaint quotes from the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of white chocolate: “White chocolate is the solid or semiplastic food prepared by intimately grinding cacao fat with one or more of the optional dairy ingredients specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section and one or more optional nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners and may contain one or more of the other optional ingredients specified in paragraph (b) of this section.” Also, “White chocolate contains not less than 20 percent by weight of cacao fat…”
But according to the complaint, the “imitation white chocolate in the Product does not have cocoa butter as required, and instead has other cheap confectionary ingredients to imitate the taste of white chocolate.” The complaint implies that this delivers a cheaper drink without the true flavor of white chocolate, and that consumers are paying for more than they are receiving.
It also makes the drink “misbranded” under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FDCA), the complaint alleges, as well as under similar state laws. The complaint quotes the FDCA as saying that a food will be considered 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.” Later it quotes highly similar language and virtually identical requirements in New York state law.
The complaint alleges that Starbucks intended to mislead consumers. It says that other Starbucks products with “white chocolate” in their names actually do contain cocoa butter, including White Chocolate Crème Frappuccino, Iced White Chocolate Mocha, and Toasted White Chocolate Frappunccino.
The complaint claims that Starbucks has violated the New York General Business Law’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and False Advertising Law. In addition, it claims that Starbucks has committed common law fraud.