Celestial Seasonings “Honey Vanilla” Chamomile Tea New York Class Action

Consumers these days prefer natural flavors. But that’s not all: They want the flavors to come from the “characterizing ingredient” advertised. That is, if a drink is said to be honey- or vanilla-flavored, they expect the flavor to come from real honey or real vanilla, and not from some other ingredient, natural or otherwise, that can imitate a honey or vanilla flavor. The complaint for this class action alleges that Celestial Seasonings, Inc. makes a Honey Vanilla Chamomile Tea product that does not contain sufficient honey or vanilla to justify its labeling.

The class for this action is all those who live in New York who bought the product during the statute of limitations.

Page 2 of the complaint shows an image of the box of tea bags, displaying the words “Honey Vanilla Chamomile” in large type, along with “100% natural teas” and an image of a jar of honey, a honey dipper, and two bees. According to the complaint, “[t]hough the Product is an herbal blend tea, it has two characterizing or main flavors—honey and vanilla.”

As to the representations on the box, the complaint asserts, “The representations are misleading because the Product contains [a] trace or a de minimis amount of honey and vanilla and the front label does not disclose this to consumers.”

Natural flavors are expensive, and this is particularly true of vanilla, which is the second-most expensive flavor in the world (after saffron). The complaint claims that “vanilla has reached record high prices in recent years.”

The US has a separate standard of identity for vanilla flavor in the Code of Federal Regulations. The complaint quotes a paper entitled, “Vanilla Flavorings and Vanilla-Flavored Foods in the US” as saying that the regulations “require that food products be labeled accurately so that consumers can determine whether the product is flavored with a vanilla flavoring derived from vanilla beans, in whole or in part, or whether the food’s vanilla flavor is provided by flavorings not derived from vanilla beans.”

How does the complaint claim to know that there’s very little vanilla in the tea? The complaint reproduces the ingredient panel for the product, which lists “Natural Honey Flavor with Other Natural Flavors.” It does not list any vanilla.

The complaint alleges, “Listing ‘Natural Honey Flavor with Other Natural Flavors’ means the honey and vanilla taste are not derived exclusively or even predominantly from honey and vanilla sources, because if they were, the ingredient list would indicate separately honey and vanilla extract.” It adds, “Though ‘other natural flavors’ may provide some vanilla taste, [they] contain[] a minute amount of real vanilla and isolated vanilla compounds—artificial vanilla not from vanilla beans.”

According to the complaint, the product’s flavor should include some qualifiers, such as “flavored” or the like that does not suggest that the tea’s flavors are exclusively from real honey and real vanilla.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Celestial Seasonings “Honey Vanilla” Chamomile Tea New York Complaint

September 26, 2020

Consumers these days prefer natural flavors. But that’s not all: They want the flavors to come from the “characterizing ingredient” advertised. That is, if a drink is said to be honey- or vanilla-flavored, they expect the flavor to come from real honey or real vanilla, and not from some other ingredient, natural or otherwise, that can imitate a honey or vanilla flavor. The complaint for this class action alleges that Celestial Seasonings, Inc. makes a Honey Vanilla Chamomile Tea product that does not contain sufficient honey or vanilla to justify its labeling.

Celestial Seasonings “Honey Vanilla” Chamomile Tea New York Complaint

Case Event History

Celestial Seasonings “Honey Vanilla” Chamomile Tea New York Complaint

September 26, 2020

Consumers these days prefer natural flavors. But that’s not all: They want the flavors to come from the “characterizing ingredient” advertised. That is, if a drink is said to be honey- or vanilla-flavored, they expect the flavor to come from real honey or real vanilla, and not from some other ingredient, natural or otherwise, that can imitate a honey or vanilla flavor. The complaint for this class action alleges that Celestial Seasonings, Inc. makes a Honey Vanilla Chamomile Tea product that does not contain sufficient honey or vanilla to justify its labeling.

Celestial Seasonings “Honey Vanilla” Chamomile Tea New York Complaint
Tags: Contains Too Little of Featured Ingredients, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels