The maker of Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups is facing a consumer class action lawsuit alleging the packaging contains too much non-functional slack fill.
Plaintiff Howard Clark is asserting claims against Justin’s Nut Butter LLC among other violations of state and federal consumer protection laws. Clark says he was surprised when he purchased Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups earlier this month at a Target store in San Francisco to find that the container had nearly 40% empty space or slack fill. He claims he did not receive the quantity of product that he paid for and was promised.
Slack-fill is defined as the “difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein.” Most consumer products contain some slack fill to protect contents during shipping and handling. This type of slack fill is not the issue here as it performs a specific function. What’s at issue here is non-functional slack fill, or the “empty space in a package that is filled to be substantially less than its capacity for” no apparent reason.
Several federal and state consumer protection and labeling laws are in place to specifically prohibit deceptive packaging and labeling of product – such as non-functional slack fill. In California, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (CFPLA) was enacted to protect consumer-purchasers against deception or misrepresentation. “Packages and their labels should enable consumers to obtain accurate information as to the quantity of the contents and should facilitate value comparisons,” the law states.
Essentially, the CFPLA mandates that food containers cannot be “made, formed, or filled” in a misleading manner. “A container that does not allow the consumer to fully view its contents shall be considered to be filled as to be misleading if it contains nonfunctional slack fill.”
The Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups slack fill class action lawsuit contends that there is no justifiable reason for the 40% slack fill. In fact, judging from the size of the product packaging, a reasonable consumer would expect to receive substantially more product then they actually do.
“Plaintiff is informed and believes, and upon such information and belief alleges, that Defendant is selling and will continue to sell the Justin’s Product using the blatantly deceptive and misleading slack-filled container,” the Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups slack fill class action lawsuit asserts.
Clark brings this proposed nationwide consumer class action lawsuit on behalf of All U.S. citizens who made retail purchases of Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cup Product “during the applicable limitations period up to and including final judgment in this action”. Clark is also seeking to certify a California subclass.
A slew of recent class action lawsuits indicate that consumers are fed up with the alleged deceptive packaging of several brand name products, including Herbal Zen Nutrition, Knorr Pasta Sides, and Junior Mints candy. While some cases are pending in the courts, some have reached substantial settlements. For instance, the Taste of Nature, the maker of Cookie Dough Bites and other popular candy products recently settled a slack fill class action lawsuit, while Ferrara Candy, who makes Lemonheads, RedHots, Boston Baked Beans, and more settled a similar class action lawsuit to the tune of $2.5 million.
The Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cup Slack-Fill Class Action Lawsuit is Clark v. Justin’s Nut Butter LLC, Case No. 3:18-cv-06193, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.