WhiteWave Foods has settled a class action lawsuit that alleged it misled US consumers by listing ‘evaporated cane juice’ rather than ‘sugar’ on products including several of its Horizon Organic brand flavored milk drinks and yogurts.
The lawsuit, which was filed in US District Court in the Southern District of Florida in April 2013, alleged that several White Wave Foods products were falsely or misleadingly labelled and marketed, because they listed ‘evaporated cane juice’ as opposed to ‘sugar’ as an ingredient.
Products bearing the allegedly false labeling included Horizon Organic Low-Fat Chocolate Milk plus DHA Omega-3, Horizon Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt, Horizon
Low-Fat Milk Box’s in strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate, Horizon Tuberz yogurts, and several soy and coconut milk products.
The Broomfield, Colorado-based firm agreed to settle the case out of court, but has denied “any liability or wrongdoing of any kind associated with the claims.”
Replace ‘evaporated cane juice’
WhiteWave has, however, “agreed to modify the language on the labels” of the products under scrutiny.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, WhiteWave Foods said that it has agreed to make labeling adjustments in an attempt to aid the “educated choices” of the consumer.
“While we disagree with the allegations made in this suit, we have reached this settlement so we can continue focusing on our mission of making simple, delicious food that is grown responsibly,” said ta statement from the company.
“At WhiteWave, we are committed to ensuring our product labels provide consumers with the information necessary to make educated choices.”
“As part of that commitment, WhiteWave has agreed to replace ‘evaporated cane juice’ on our products ingredients list with ‘organic cane sugar’ and ‘cane sugar’. We are planning to make the changes on our portfolio over the next few months as part of our ongoing process to review and update our portfolio and packaging,” the company added.
“Partial cash refund”
WhiteWave Foods added that it will be offering members of the class action a “partial cash refund.”
Class members - individuals who purchased WhiteWave products containing ‘evaporated cane juice’ as an ingredients between 1 January 2005 and 19 April 2013 - who have proof of purchase may seek reimbursement for 75% of their purchase price.
This is subject to a cap of $50 per household.
Class members without proof of purchase can still claim a refund of 25% under the terms of the settlement.
The plaintiff and WhiteWave Foods estimated that the total settlement value - including relief, fees and costs - could hit around $800,000.