A class action lawsuit alleges Bagel Bites are falsely advertised by the manufacturers, deceiving customers into believing the popular bite-sized pizza bagels are made from natural ingredients.
Kaitlyn Huber filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on April 25, seeking class action status to pursue damages on behalf of consumers nationwide who purchased Ore-Ida Bagel Bites.
According to allegations raised in the lawsuit, Kraft Heinz Food deceptively markets several brands of Bagel Bites Pizza Snacks products as containing real mozzarella cheese. However, Huber indicates the pizza products contain a cheese blend that have only a small amount of part-skim mozzarella cheese, while the majority of the cheese ingredient is made from modified food starch.
The Bagel Bites lawsuit further indicates that Kraft deceptively markets that the food contains real tomato sauce, leading consumers to believe the products contain real tomatoes in a puree or paste form. However, Huber claims the Pizza Bites are not made from real tomatoes and contain non-tomato extenders and thickeners, as well as modified corn starch and methylcellulose.
Huber argues that consumers seek to purchase products with real tomatoes because they are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that contributes to heart health and reduces cancer risk. She further states consumers would have chosen a different product or paid significantly less if they had known the tomato products contained cornstarch and methylcellulose, which are cheaper and produced industrially in a chemical plant instead of originating on a farm.
Kraft advertises its Pizza Bites packaging with false and misleading health benefits such as “Made With Real Cheese,” the “Real” dairy seal, “Kosher Dairy,” “No High Fructose Corn Syrup,” and “No Artificial Flavors”, according to Huber.
The REAL® logo was introduced in 1976 to combat the use of imitation cheese on pizzas, according to Huber. However, the manufacturer uses the label on Bagel Bites while intentionally using the bare minimum ingredients, in an effort to cut costs and increase profits while deceiving consumers.
The lawsuit presents claims of unfair trade practices, breach of expressed warranty, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment.
Huber seeks to pursue damages on behalf of all others nationwide who were similarly deceived by the false and misleading representations made on the products packaging, and for the court to issue a permanent injunctive relief in directing Kraft to correct the labeling.
Given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to establish official definitions for terms like “healthy”, “wholesome” and “nutritious”, consumers are often left to overwhelmingly rely on health claims made by the manufacturers when making healthy food choice selections.
Earlier this year in March, a federal judge approved a Post Foods class action settlement resolving claims the manufacturer of Raisin Bran and Honey Bunches made false and misleading claims that the products were “wholesome”, “smart” and “nutritious”, despite high levels of sugar additives.
The class action lawsuit, which was filed against Post Foods in 2016, resulted in a payment of $15 million by the manufacturer, as well as an agreement to change false and misleading nutritional labels provided on several of its popular cereal products.