Consumers these days like ready-to-eat snacks, but they don’t want those snacks to have gone through a lot of processing that might change their character. That’s It Nutrition, LLC seems to meet this desire with its That’s It Bars. However, the complaint for this class action claims that this assumption comes from misleading labels.
The class for this action is (1) all consumers in all states and (2) all consumers in New York State who bought the products at issue in this case during the statute of limitations period. The products at issue are the That’s It products “bearing any actionable representations.”
That’s It products comes in four types, the complaint says: (1) fruit bars, (2) fruit bars with spicy ingredients, (3) chocolate-covered fruit pieces, and (4) vegetable bars. For the most part, the products consist of either (1) apple and another fruit type, with or without spices, or (2) black beans and another vegetable type.
The labels reproduced in the complaint show simple graphics: a picture of a whole apple, a plus sign, and some blueberries, for example; or the word “Beans,” a plus sign, and a bunch of carrots. The ingredient list is similar; for example, the apple and blueberry bar reads, “Ingredients: Apples, Blueberries. Seriously… That’s it!” Other claims on the bar read, “No Preservatives,” “All Natural,” and “Raw.”
These representations, the complaint says, imply that the company took whole, raw apples and blueberries and chopped or mashed them to form the product. But the complaint claims that mashed fruits alone would not hold together in a bar; they would require a binding agent, such as a gel, pectin, juice concentrate, or syrup, which would have to be included in the ingredient list. The complaint charges that the bars are made from a processed form of fruit, such as a fruit powder.
If that is the case, the complaint claims, the labels are misleading.
The complaint points out that federal and state regulations require that ingredient lists use specific rather than generic names. For example, tomato products used in a food are identified as “tomato puree,” “tomato sauce,” “tomato powder,” “diced tomatoes,” or the like. These ingredients cannot be called simply “tomatoes” because they are different in terms of function, nutrients, flavor, texture, and other properties.
The complaint claims that the images and labeling leads consumers to believe that the snacks were made from whole fruits or vegetables that have undergone minimal processing. It also implies that the bar is fresher than one made with a powder that might have sat on a shelf for a long time.
If the bar has in fact been made from a powder or some other highly-processed substance, the complaint claims, the labeling is misleading and constitutes fraud and violations of New York’s General Business Law.