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Published on August 27th, 2013 | by Jennifer Kaplan

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7-Eleven Shuts Down False ‘Natural’ Advertising Lawsuit

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7-Eleven

7-Eleven Charged with False ‘Natural’ Advertising

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc. was about to join a growing list of companies that have been sued for mislabeling their food products with the term ‘natural’ and other deceptive marketing claims. But, not today.

According to LegalNewsOnline.com, a federal judge in California has dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit filed against 7-Eleven for allegedly mislabeling its private label food products. The specifically named 7-Select potato chips, 7-Select Ice Cream, 7-Select Cheese Jalapenos, and Fresh to Go Parfait. A Judge in California said that the consumers who bough the lawsuit were not specific enough in their allegations.

Consumers who filed the class action suit against 7-Eleven in 2012, alleged that the labeling on several of the company’s food products, as well as websites related to the products, contain statements amounting to “misbranding” and “deception” in violation of California and federal laws. Specifically, consumers alleged that 7-Eleven did not comply with state and federal regulations when making nutrient content claims; making “all natural” and “fresh” claims; failing to disclose the presence of artificial colors and flavors; and using allegedly “slack-filled” containers to deceive consumers into believing they are receiving more than they actually are. The goes on to allege that the “illegal conduct … has resulted in unjust profits.”

An earlier amendment states:

  1. Potato chips, pretzels and other food products labeled “0 grams Trans Fat” or “No Cholesterol” but contain more than 13 grams of fat or 4 grams of saturated fat or 480 grams of sodium per 50 grams and /or disqualifying levels of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium;
  2. 7 Select Ice Cream and other food products labeled as “All Natural” but contain artificial or unknown ingredients;
  3. “Fresh to Go” products or other food products labeled “guaranteed fresh” or “Fresh” were thoroughly processed, frozen or in a non-raw state or contained preservatives;
  4. Products sold in oversized slack filled container (referred to as “Misbranded Food Products”).

The judge rejected the argument stating:

The Amended Complaint fails to unambiguously specify the particular products that have violated particular labeling requirements, the allegedly unlawful representations that were on the products, and the particular statements Plaintiff allegedly relied on when making his purchases.”

Sounds pretty specific to me but, the Judge allowed for the possibility of the lawsuit to proceed if the lawsuit can be amended with more specifics.  Lawyers submitted an second amended complaint earlier this week. Stay tuned.

Photo: Niloo / Shutterstock.com



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About the Author

Jennifer Kaplan writes regularly about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for EatDrinkBetter.com and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - find her on .



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