Walmart faces a class action lawsuit over deceptive labeling for its store brand transition infant formula, “Toddler Beginnings”, alleging that the retailer encouraged parents to purchase the products at a premium price, while offering no additional nutritional or health benefit.
The “Toddler Beginnings” class action lawsuit (PDF) was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York on June 22, indicating that Walmart sold the infant formula based on false and misleading label information, even though the product provided the same, or less, nutritional value as standard infant formulas.
Lead plaintiff Amanda Williams indicates that Walmart continues to market their store brand transition formula, Toddler Beginnings, as nutritionally appropriate for children between the ages of nine months and above, with the false perception that the products offer a nutritional benefit they would not receive from other sources.
The lawsuit alleges Walmart’s representation of its Toddler Beginnings product as a transition formula, which shares the same labeling format and health benefit statements as Walmart’s infant formula, offers advanced nutritional value for children nine months and above and implies that infants and young toddlers have identical nutrient requirements, which is false. The lawsuit also claims the transition formulas contain sugar additives that are not labeled on the nutritional fact sheet.
These claims contradict expert recommendations, which indicate that infants should be breast fed or supplement with infant formulas for the first six months of an infant’s life, followed by the addition of complementary foods and breastfeeding, or infant formula, until at least 12 months of age, when a child can be given whole milk and healthy foods, according to the lawsuit.
Williams alleges Walmart has partaken in a deceptive advertising practices intended to persuade parents and caregivers to purchase expensive transition formulas that cost more than three times the price of those recommended by health experts, and are harder to transition away from to regular whole milk.
The lawsuit cites several studies that have shown parents and caregivers are prone to making incorrect nutritional decisions based on Walmart’s marketing of Toddler Beginnings transition formula, one of which indicated that 52% of caregivers expected a pricier transition formula to give nutrition they would not receive from other sources.
The second study cited in the lawsuit found 70% of caregivers surveyed believed transition formulas like Toddler Beginnings is a suitable drink for toddlers, despite expert recommendations that they offer “no unique nutritional value beyond what could be achieved through a nutritionally adequate diet.”
Williams claims that the value of Toddler Beginnings is materially less than its value represented by Walmart, and that if disclosed, she would have never bought the product or would have paid significantly less for it.
The Walmart class action lawsuit presents claims for negligently misrepresenting and fraudulently branding its store brand Toddler Beginnings formula, allowing the retailer to charge higher prices per unit for financial gain, at the expense of consumers.
Due to Walmart being a national retailer, and being documented selling its Toddler Beginnings transition formulas across the United States, Williams is seeking class action status for all of those similarly situated that paid a premium for products sold under false misrepresentations.