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Kroger Private Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Class Action

Food labeling is regulated by the federal government. This class action takes up the labeling of a purportedly “Smoked Gouda” cheese offered by the Kroger Company. The complaint alleges that the labeling misrepresents the product because it is not actually smoked but merely has added smoke flavor, which is not disclosed on the front of the packaging.

The class for this action is all those who live in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas who bought the product during the applicable statutes of limitations.

Page 1 of the complaint shows two images of the product. At the top of the label are the words “Private Selection.” In the largest font on the package are the words “Smoked Gouda.” Directly below that are the words “Sliced Cheese,” and then, in smaller font, “distinctive, smoky flavor.”

The original purpose of smoking was food preservation, via the drying action and the different phenol compounds that “help[] to preserve protein-rich foods such as meat, cheese, almonds, and fish.” Smoking declined in popularity in the mid-1900s because preservatives were available for food preservation, but now consumers are wanting fewer preservatives and chemicals and more natural and naturally-processed foods.

Under the law, the front label of a food should “disclose the source of any characterizing flavor.” The complaint quotes an article called “Regulations: Making Taste Claims” as saying, “The rule is premised on the simple notion that consumers value ‘the real thing’ versus a close substitute and should be able to rely on the label to readily distinguish between the two. This consumer protection objective is relevant to taste claims conveyed in advertising as well.”

The complaint alleges, “Consumers prefer foods that are flavored from their characterizing food ingredient or a natural production process—being smoked—instead of having added flavor.”

It also quotes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as warning companies about added smoke flavor: “If these smoke ingredients [natural smoke flavor] are added flavors, they should be declared … [on the front of the label]; however, if these ingredients describe the smoking process, then they must not be listed as ingredients in the ingredient statement.”

According to the complaint, the product “is labeled as ‘Smoked Gouda’ and described as having a ‘distinctive, smoky flavor’ which gives consumers the impression that its smoked flavor is from being smoked.” However, the complaint reproduces the ingredient list, which shows “Smoke Flavor.”

The complaint contends that consumers “would have no reason to know that listing ‘Smoke Flavor’ on the ingredient list forecloses the possibility the Product was subject to at least some smoking.” That is, it claims that the product has not been smoked at all and the smoked taste comes solely from added smoke flavor.

Furthermore, the complaint alleges that lab analysis of the flavor shows that certain phenolic compounds that would be expected to result from a real smoking process are missing, and that in other ways as well the lab results do not indicate real smoking.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Kroger Co. Private Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Complaint

February 28, 2021

Food labeling is regulated by the federal government. This class action takes up the labeling of a purportedly “Smoked Gouda” cheese offered by the Kroger Company. The complaint alleges that the labeling misrepresents the product because it is not actually smoked but merely has added smoke flavor, which is not disclosed on the front of the packaging.

Kroger Co. Private Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Complaint

Case Event History

Kroger Co. Private Selection “Smoked” Gouda Multi-State Complaint

February 28, 2021

Food labeling is regulated by the federal government. This class action takes up the labeling of a purportedly “Smoked Gouda” cheese offered by the Kroger Company. The complaint alleges that the labeling misrepresents the product because it is not actually smoked but merely has added smoke flavor, which is not disclosed on the front of the packaging.

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