Plaintiffs Seek MDL for Lawsuits Over KIND snacks “All Natural” Labeling

A request has been filed to establish consolidated pretrial proceedings for all federal class action lawsuits brought against the makers of KIND granola bars, which allege that false and misleading statements were made that suggest the granola bars are “healthy” and “all natural.” 

In a motion for transfer (PDF) was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 1, plaintiffs Charlie McDonald and Benjamin Karter indicate that Kind, LLC currently faces at least 12 separate complaints pending in seven different U.S. District Courts. Plaintiffs seek to centralize the cases before one federal judge as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Each of the KIND granola bar lawsuits raises similar claims, indicating that the manufacturer engaged in unfair, unlawful and deceptive marketing and advertising for their bars. Plaintiffs argue that consolidation the litigation for pretrial proceedings will eliminate contradictory rulings and duplicative discovery, and serve the convenience of the courts, witnesses and both parties.

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The petition seeks to have the cases consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Seven of the cases filed so far have been in California federal courts.

The lawsuits came after the FDA sent a warning letter to Kind, LLC in March, indicating that the company was incorrectly labeling their granola bars as “healthy,” despite having too much fat to justify that designation.

“Since 2004, Defendant KIND distributed and sold Snack bars that Defendant packaged and marketed as “healthy” and “All Natural” despite the fact that (1) the Snack Bars exceed federal requirements for use of the nutrient content claim “healthy” and (2) the Snack Bars contain one or more artificial or synthetic ingredients,” the motion to transfer states.

According to the FDA letter, the term “healthy” can only be applied to food that has one gram or less of saturated fat per serving, and no more than 15% of the serving’s calories are from saturated fat. However, the FDA found far more than that in KIND’s granola-like snack bars.

The agency singled out for specific products:

  • The Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot bar, which contains 3.5 g of saturated fat
  • The Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut bar, which contains 5 g of saturated fat
  • The Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein bar, which contains 3.5 g of saturated fat
  • The Kind Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants bar, which contains 2.5 g of saturated fat.

The FDA also noted that the total fat of the bars also exceeds the maximum fat required to call a food “low fat” with the bars containing from nine to 13 grams of total fat. To be considered “low fat” they would have to have no more than 3 grams of total fat per serving. The agency’s letter also questions claims that the bars have no trans fats and questions their allergen information.

Kind officials have defended their product marketing, saying that while they will comply with the FDA requests, they believe that because the fat content in their products comes from nuts, they should still be considered healthy. The company said it would review all of its snack food labels and website information and ensure that they are compliant.


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