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Emporium Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Class Action

Aldi, Inc. makes Smoked Gouda Deli Sliced Cheese under its Emporium Selection brand. But in what way is it “smoked”? The complaint alleges that the cheese is not in fact smoked but only has smoke flavor added, and that that is not in keeping with food labeling requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations.

The class for this action is residents of Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, and Virginia who bought the product during the applicable statutes of limitations.

Smoking was a process initially used to preserve proteins, such as meats, cheeses, almonds, and fish. It was used less often after the introduction of chemical preservatives, but the complaint alleges that “the last two decades have seen a resurgence in smoked foods, as consumers embrace foods made without advanced chemistry and synthetic ingredients.”

The complaint refers to “research by Mintel” to assert that consumers prefer to have the flavors of foods come from the characterizing ingredient or natural processes. In flavorings, consumers prefer “the real thing.”

The front label of a food product is supposed to disclose the source of its characterizing flavor. The complaint points to the example of strawberry shortcake, where strawberries are the characterizing ingredient. If it contains some natural flavor from strawberries, together with either no real strawberries or not enough strawberries to characterize the food, the complaint claims, the front label is supposed to acknowledge this flavoring, by saying, for example, “natural strawberry flavored shortcake” or “strawberry flavored shortcake.”

The complaint also claims, “Where a food’s flavor does not come exclusively from a characterizing ingredient or processing method, but contains natural flavor derived from that ingredient or processing method, this must be disclosed to consumers on the front label, in addition to on the ingredient list.”

It quotes warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about foods with added smoke flavor: “If these smoke ingredients [natural smoke flavor] are added flavors, they should be declared in accordance with 21 CFR 101.22[,]” that is, on the front of the label.

The front label for the Smoked Gouda Deli Sliced Cheese only says “Smoked Gouda.” It says nothing about added smoke flavor. However, the ingredient panel for the product lists “Natural Smoke Flavor.” The complaint asserts, “Through listing ‘Natural Smoke Flavor’ on the ingredient list, the Product tacitly admits that even if it has undergone smoking, it was not smoked enough to sufficiently impart a characterizing smoke flavor.”

The complaint alleges that the front label misleads customers by giving them the impression that all of the smoke flavor came from the process of smoking. It claims that added smoke flavor “lacks the delicate balance” of phenolic compounds from actual smoking and that the actual smoking process “generat[es] compounds that are not capable of being included in a ‘natural smoke flavor…’”

The complaint alleges fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breaches of warranties, among other things.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Emporium Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Complaint

July 3, 2021

Aldi, Inc. makes Smoked Gouda Deli Sliced Cheese under its Emporium Selection brand. But in what way is it “smoked”? The complaint alleges that the cheese is not in fact smoked but only has smoke flavor added, and that that is not in keeping with food labeling requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Emporium Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Complaint

Case Event History

Emporium Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Complaint

July 3, 2021

Aldi, Inc. makes Smoked Gouda Deli Sliced Cheese under its Emporium Selection brand. But in what way is it “smoked”? The complaint alleges that the cheese is not in fact smoked but only has smoke flavor added, and that that is not in keeping with food labeling requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Emporium Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Complaint
Tags: "Smoked" Food Is Only Smoke-Flavored, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels