Bai Brands LLC is facing a proposed consumer class action lawsuit challenging the beverage maker’s claims it fruit-flavored drinks are all-natural.
Plaintiff Kevin Branca filed the Bai fruit drinks class action lawsuit in California federal court last month, claiming that Bai labels its drinks, including its’ Bai Antioxidant Infusion Brasilia Blueberry, Bai Antioxidant Infusion Ipanema Pomegranate, Bai Antioxidant Infusion Malawi Mango beverages and more, as containing only natural fruits and juices when they actually contain artificial flavors.
According to the 27-page complaint, the product labeling on Bai beverage products shows fresh berries and/or fruit, implying to the consumer that the drinks consist of and are flavored with only natural juices and fruit flavors. However, all of the Bai fruit drinks contain a synthetic chemical flavoring compound known as “malic acid.” Malic acid is a chemical that makes manufactured food products taste like fresh fruit – like blueberries, mangos, or cherries, for example.
Branca contends that because the Bai fruit drinks contain malic acid, the beverage maker is required under California law and federal statutes to disclose those additional flavors on the front label. Instead, Bai chooses to mislead consumers that their fruit drinks are flavored only by natural fruit juices.
FDA regulations and California law establish that if the labeling or advertising of a food product “makes any direct or indirect representations with respect to the primary recognizable flavors by word, depiction of a fruit, or other means” then, “such flavor shall be the characterizing flavor.” Additionally, under the law, the “presence or absence of any charactering ingredient” must be in boldface print on the front display panel of the product’s package and must be of sufficient size for an average consumer to notice it.
Basically, since “Blueberry”, “Mango”, “Cherry”, and other fruits the Bai fruit drinks are named and labeled as on the front packaging, they are considered “characterizing flavors” under California and federal regulations and therefore Bai is breaking the law by not including the fact they their drinks contain an artificial flavoring ingredient on their product’s front label.
Branca says he and other consumers were duped into pay $1.99 per drink or in some cases $19.99 for a variety pack of Bai fruit drinks, believing the products to be free of artificial flavoring. Instead, the fruit drinks purchased and consumed were falsely advertised. He contends that he and other consumers would not have purchased Bai fruit drinks had they known the true nature of the ingredients.
Branca is seeking to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased Bai fruit drinks on or after January 2012 as well as a California subclass. Among a request for monetary damages, Branca is asking the court to order Bai Brands to re-label all existing Bai drinks and conduct a corrective advertising campaign to inform consumers about the true nature of ingredients of their Bai fruit drinks.
Branca is represented by Ronald A. Marron and Michael T. Houchin of Law Offices of Ronald A. Marron.
The Bai Fruit Drinks False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit is Branca v. Bai Brands LLC, Case No. 3:18-cv-00757-BEN-KSC, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.