ALDI faces a major class action lawsuit for an allegedly false “naturally flavored” claim.
ALDI has been named in a class action lawsuit in California that alleges it misrepresented its fruit and grain bars to consumers by claiming they contain only natural products, as reported by Newsweek.
The lawsuit was filed on May 30 with the U.S. District Court for central California. A lawyer for plaintiff, Deana Lozano, argued that despite Millville Fruit & Grain cereal bars' packaging claims that the bars have "no artificial flavors" and were "naturally flavored," laboratory testing had found they contained DL malic acid, a synthetic flavoring.
Newsweek reported that an ingredients list for the bars on Amazon shows that they contain malic acid, which can be made through natural and synthetic processes.
The lawsuit noted that synthetic malic acid "is manufactured in petrochemical plants from benzene or butane — components of gasoline and lighter fluid, respectively." According to the National Library of Medicine, it is produced by "catalytic oxidation of benzene" and is deemed to be of "low concern" by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Testing by an independent third-party laboratory has confirmed that the malic acid that defendant uses in these products is DL malic acid," the lawsuit alleges, adding: "The ingredients on the products' label are declared in a way that is misleading and contrary to law, because [the] defendant designates the ingredient by its generic name."
ALDI is facing allegations that its packaging violates several California codes and that the company, "through its marketing and labeling of the products, misrepresented and deceived consumers regarding the flavoring in the products."
The lawsuit is demanding $9,999,000 in damages for customers who bought the product in the past four years.
Lozano is no stranger to lawsuits against food corporations. According to the Daily Meal, she has two other pending court cases. In May, Lozano filed a class action lawsuit against the Kellogg Co. asserting a false-advertising claim regarding the natural flavor label term on its Nutrigrain breakfast bars. Also, in 2021, she filed a class action against Bowmar Nutrition that questioned the labeled versus actual amount of protein contained in its products. Lozano is a health care administrator and amateur athlete.
ALDI is one of America’s fastest-growing retailers, serving millions of customers across the country each month. With about 2,200 stores in 38 states, Batavia, Ill.-based ALDI U.S. employs 45,000-plus associates and is No. 26 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.