A California judge has granted in part a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed against Jamba Juice over ‘all-natural’ claims, but has given the plaintiff the right to amend his complaint.
The complaint , filed by Kevin Anderson on March 12, is one of a string of class action lawsuits filed against firms including PepsiCo, Kellogg, ConAgra and Kraft over ‘all-natural’ claims.
Anderson argued that Jamba Juice’s ‘all-natural’ smoothie kits deceive consumers because they contain “unnaturally processed, synthetic and/or non-natural ingredients” including ascorbic acid, citric acid, xanthan gum and steviol glycosides.
While some of these ingredients might be derived from a natural source, the extraction and processing methods meant shoppers would no longer consider them to be ‘natural’, said Anderson
Anderson also argued that Jamba Juice had breached the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act (MMWA) as labeling the kits ‘All Natural’ had in effect created a written warranty that they were free of defects (i.e., that they were not synthetic, artificial and/or non-natural).
Judge: ‘All Natural’ is a general description rather than a promise that the product is defect-free
However, US district court judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers was not persuaded by this argument in her August 25 ruling on Jamba Juice’s motion to dismiss the case.
She said: “Jamba Juice argues that the language 'All Natural' on the kits’ labels does not constitute a written warranty within the meaning of the MMWA. The Court agrees. District Courts have held consistently that labeling a product 'All Natural' is not a written warranty under the MMWA…
"The statement 'All Natural' is a general product description rather than a promise that the product is defect-free.”
She added: “The Court grants the motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claim for breach of written warranty under the MMWA with leave to amend to the extent some other basis may exist for this claim.
“No later than September 14, 2012, Plaintiff shall file either a second amended complaint or a notice that he intends to proceed on the first amended complaint.”
… But plaintiff can bring claims on behalf of products he did not himself purchase…
However, she rejected Jamba Juice’s argument that as Anderson had not bought all five smoothie kits named in the case (he only bought two flavors), he could not bring claims on behalf of purchasers of the other three flavors.
She added: “There is sufficient similarity between the products purchased and the products not purchased because the same alleged misrepresentation was on all of the smoothie kit regardless of flavor; all smoothie kits are labeled 'All Natural' and all smoothie kits contain allegedly non-natural ingredients.”
Founded in 1990, Jamba Juice Company is a leading food and beverage retailer with more than 760 stores selling smoothies, juices, yogurt and other products.
It has developed a range of consumer packaged goods including frozen bars and smoothie kits, which come in five flavors and feature the ‘all-natural’ claim.