Two California men have filed a class action suit against Nabisco and its parent company, Mondelez International Inc. The plaintiffs are accusing the company of making false and misleading advertising claims about their belVita Breakfast Products.
The lawsuit, filed on November 16, 2017, asserts that Mondelez International Inc. advertised its belVita Breakfast Products as nutritious options for customers “who have health and wellness in mind.” The products in question, the various flavors of belVita “Crunchy” Biscuits, belVita “Soft Bakes” Biscuits, belVita “Bites,” and belVita “Sandwiches,” are sold in packaging that advertise the foods’ fiber, whole grain, and vitamin content. The packaging also states the belVita products are “a nutritious, convenient breakfast choice that contains slow-release carbs from wholesome grains to help fuel your body for 4 hours.”
Despite the health claims Mondelez advertises to customers, the lawsuit alleges that the products contain sugar at such excessive levels that no reasonable person would consider to be healthy. The amount of sugar varies by product but falls in a range between 8 to 13 grams of sugar, which is between 16 and 24 percent of a person’s recommended daily sugar allowance.
The lead plaintiffs, Patrick McMorrow and Marco Ohlin of San Diego, state the health claims made by Mondelez go against the widely known negative health effects of diets high in sugar. They reference multiple health studies in the lawsuit to prove the validity of their assertion. The studies concluded that excessive consumption of sugar can be a contributing factor of developing a variety of chronic diseases, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, inflammation, high cholesterol, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, cognitive disease, and certain types of cancer.
The plaintiffs allege the false claims made by Mondelez influenced them to pay a premium price for a product advertised as beneficial to their health. In reality, the unhealthy belVita snacks were worth significantly less.
McMorrow and Ohlin are suing on behalf of themselves and a proposed Class of California residents who purchased the belVita products in question for themselves or for their households during the statutory time limit. The lawsuit does not pertain to customers who purchased the products for resale or distribution.
In a trial by jury, the class action suit is asking that Mondelez discontinue any advertisements containing claims that are found to be false, misleading, or unlawful. It is also requesting that Mondelez conduct a corrective advertising campaign. The plaintiffs are asking the court for award of restitution, compensatory and punitive damages, pre- and post-judgement interest, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.
The Class is represented by attorneys Paul K. Joseph of law Office of Paul K. Joseph PC and by Jack Fitzgerald, Trevor M. Flynn, Meanie Persinger and Tran Nguyen of The Law Office of Jack Fitzgerald PC. The belVita Breakfast Foods Sugar Content Class Action Lawsuit is McMorrow, et al. v. Mondelez International Inc., Case no. 3:17-cv-02327-BEN-JLB, in the U.S. District Court for the Souther District of California.