Food Fight

Woman sues Kellogg for $5m, claiming there aren't enough strawberries in strawberry Pop-Tarts

The woman has argued the snack contains more quantities of other fruits.

A US WOMAN is suing Kellogg for $5 million in New York state because she claims there are a lack of strawberries in the cereal maker’s wholegrain strawberry Pop-Tarts. 

Elizabeth Russett, who is represented by Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates law firm, is accusing Kellogg of conveying that the toaster pastries contain mostly strawberries when they contain comparatively more pear and apple. 

The case documents filed by Sheehan claim that “consumers seek strawberries for their nutritive properties”, but the amount of strawberry fruit in the snacks is “insufficient not merely to provide the nutrient benefits of strawberries but to provide a strawberry taste”.

It adds that the name of the food is misleading because “strawberries are its characterising ingredient, yet the labeling fails to disclose the product merely attempts to taste like strawberries”.

The law firm is also representing two other plaintiffs — one in Illinois and another in New York — who are accusing Kellogg of misleading consumers about how much actual strawberry content the product has.

The Washington Post reports that the company has told US publications that it will not comment on upcoming case.

Plain and simple

The case argues that based on the “relatively truthful” claim that the product is whole grain, consumers should be able to expect that the other claims on the box are also accurate. 

Federal regulations require that a product’s packaging describes it in the clearest, simplest way possible, using commonly understood terms, Sheehan wrote. 

In this case, that should include “characterising ingredients”, i.e. strawberries, since people generally expect to pay a higher price for them than for other fruits like apples or pears, he said in the documents. 

“The FDA has consistently warned companies that fail to describe their products with a non-misleading, common, or usual name,” he said. 

Aside from using non-strawberry fruits to buffer the filling, the company also adds ingredients like paprika extract and vegetable juice to colour it a brighter red — indicating more strawberries, Sheehan argued. 

Had she known the Pop-Tarts contained more other fruits than strawberries, Sheehan added, Russett wouldn’t have bought them or would have paid a lower price. That gives Kellogg an advantage over competitors with more concise labelling, he alleged. 

Sheehan wants the company to change its labelling, he told the Wall Street Journal, adding “if you’re going to call it strawberry, you either ought to have all strawberries in there or just call it something else.”

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