March 19, 2021

Yet Another False Labeling Lawsuit Re: Vanilla Gets Knocked Out Of Court

In our blog post on February 23, we discussed a “false labeling” consumer lawsuit against Full Circle brand Vanilla Almondmilk that got thrown out by a federal court in New York in January 2021 because the court determined that reasonable consumers would interpret the word “vanilla” on the package as referring to a flavor, and not meaning, as the plaintiff alleged, that the almond milk contained real vanilla bean extract as an ingredient. In a more recent decision, the same court has thrown out a lawsuit alleging that a chai tea company’s product packaging misled consumers into believing that its tea mix contained real vanilla and that the vanilla was a prominent ingredient in the tea. Cosgrove v. Oregon Chai, Inc. (Feb. 22, 2021). In dismissing the lawsuit, first the Court found (as in the Full Circle almond milk case) that consumers would interpret the word “vanilla” on the product label as a description of the product’s flavor, and not as an indicator that the product contained actual vanilla beans or extract. But, further, the Court found that even if the product packaging might suggest to a consumer that there was actual vanilla beans or extract in the tea mix, a reference to the ingredient list would show that that was not true. Therefore, the packaging was not untruthful or misleading. 

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