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

At issue in this class action is whether cheese labeled as “smoked” Gouda must actually be smoked. The complaint brings suit against the Kroger Company, alleging that its Private Selection Smoked Gouda Sliced Cheese is misleadingly labeled because, it claims, the cheese is not actually smoked but contains added smoke flavor.

Two classes have been proposed for this action:

  • The Wisconsin Class is all persons in Wisconsin who bought the product during the applicable statutes of limitations.
  • The Consumer Fraud Multi-State Class is all persons in Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, and West Virginia who bought the product during the applicable statutes of limitations.

The first page of the complaint shows an image of the product, with “Smoked Gouda” on the front label in a large font and “distinctive, smoky flavor” in smaller letters.

Smoking is a process used to preserve protein-rich foods, like meat, cheese, almonds, and fish. The smoke in smoked products usually comes from burning woods, and different woods provide different flavors. Nowadays, the flavor of smoke is often created by “smoke flavor,” which the complaint calls “smoke condensed into a liquid form.”

The complaint claims, “While ‘smoke flavor’ may be convenient, it fails to supply the rich, layered combination of phenols and other odor-active compounds compared to where a food’s taste is derived entirely from being smoked over wood.”

According to the complaint, a smoked flavor has over 400 flavor compounds, which “smoke flavor” cannot supply in the appropriate “delicate balance.” The complaint claims, “When food like Gouda cheese are exposed to volatiles and particulate matter found in smoke, they undergo chemical reactions which form new flavor compounds.”

Consumers these days also prefer food without additives, the complaint claims, those “that get their taste only from a characterizing ingredient or a natural processing method.”

The complaint alleges, “Federal and identical state regulations require that a product’s front label disclose the source of any characterizing or main flavor.” According to the complaint, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created regulations for flavoring, it considered describing cheese as “smoked” to me misleading when “true smoke is absorbed in a liquid or other medium, and that medium is added to food to provide a smoke flavor.”

In these situations, the complaint alleges, “the front label should state, ‘with added smoke flavor,’ ‘[with] natural smoke flavor,’ or ‘flavor added.’” It claims the FDA requires that smoke flavor that is an added flavor should be declared as such on the front of the label, but if the flavor is added by the smoking process, they should not be listed as ingredients on the ingredient panel.

The ingredient panel on the Kroger product lists “smoke flavor” as one of the ingredients.

The complaint alleges, “By failing to disclose the addition of smoke flavor, consumers get the false impression that the Product was made similarly to comparably labeled products and smoked over hardwood, when it was not.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Kroger Private Selection “Smoked” Gouda Six-State Complaint

October 8, 2021

At issue in this class action is whether cheese labeled as “smoked” Gouda must actually be smoked. The complaint brings suit against the Kroger Company, alleging that its Private Selection Smoked Gouda Sliced Cheese is misleadingly labeled because, it claims, the cheese is not actually smoked but contains added smoke flavor.

Kroger Private Selection “Smoked” Gouda Six-State Complaint

Case Event History

Kroger Private Selection “Smoked” Gouda Six-State Complaint

October 8, 2021

At issue in this class action is whether cheese labeled as “smoked” Gouda must actually be smoked. The complaint brings suit against the Kroger Company, alleging that its Private Selection Smoked Gouda Sliced Cheese is misleadingly labeled because, it claims, the cheese is not actually smoked but contains added smoke flavor.

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