Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Another class action filed over false 'all natural' advertising

By Carol Ostrow | Jun 15, 2015

Another class action was filed in St. Clair County claiming food products sold at a Fairview Heights grocery store as being "all natural" were found to contain chemicals used to de-feather poultry.

Kathleen Hobbs filed a lawsuit on May 27 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Irene’s Bakery and Gourmet Kitchen Inc. of Bensalem, Pa., claiming false advertising.

According to the complaint, the defendant represents its Black & White Cookies as “all-natural,” but the cookies contain sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP), a synthetic chemical. The suit states that SAPP “is used to remove iron stains in leather products, is used as an oil drilling fluid, and is used to de-feather poultry—and that the FDA has said [it] has no place in purportedly all-natural products.”

Hobbs claims she bought the product in March 2015 at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in Fairview Heights for $4.99. The grocery store opened in January and describes itself as offering "value-priced fresh, healthy, natural and organic" items.

The suit states that consumers would not be willing to pay a premium price on a product if they knew it contained potentially harmful synthetic ingredients; and that the defendant is exploiting a growing market of health-conscious consumers by characterizing its cookies as all-natural.

The lawsuit cites a precedent in a case filed against Middle East Bakery LLC in 2014, wherein the defendant was accused of the same infringement and regarding the same substance (SAPP).

Claiming false, deceptive, and misleading advertising, the plaintiff alleges violation of state consumer law, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.

This class action joins three similar ones filed in St. Clair County in April.

Plaintiff Jamie Blankenship of St. Clair County brought two of the cases – one against 3 Fellers Bakery of Goochland, Va. over its Coffee Cake Bars and another against Grecian Delights Foods of Elk Grove Village over its Hand Stretched Naan flatbread.

Plaintiff Timothy Blankenship of St. Clair County is suing Dancing Deer Baking Co. of Boston over its All Natural Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

They also made their purchases at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.

Hobbs requests compensation for each class member not to exceed $75,000, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. She is represented by David Nelson of Nelson & Nelson in Belleville and Matthew Armstrong of Armstrong Law Firm in St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-313.

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