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Product was tested by a reputable third party lab, says Whole Foods

Whole Foods hit with more lawsuits accusing it of dramatically understating sugar content in its yogurt

By Elaine Watson+

16-Aug-2014
Last updated on 18-Aug-2014 at 16:59 GMT2014-08-18T16:59:13Z

Whole Foods: 'We recognize that Consumer Reports is a trusted publication and are looking into why their test results differ from ours.' (Picture: Jenguine.blogspot.com)
Whole Foods: 'We recognize that Consumer Reports is a trusted publication and are looking into why their test results differ from ours.' (Picture: Jenguine.blogspot.com)

Whole Foods has been hit with new class action lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey accusing it of significantly understating the sugar content in its 365 Everyday Value plain Greek yogurt, just days after a lawsuit making the same allegation was filed in Massachusetts.

The lawsuits cite data published in July by product testing organization Consumer Reports , which claimed that tests showed the yogurt contained 11.4g of sugar per 225g serving, almost six times the amount (2g) listed by Whole Foods on its product label.

The Texas-based retailer, which doesn’t usually comment on pending litigation, says it is trying to get to the bottom of how a third party lab it works with to conduct nutritional analysis came up with such different results.

A spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA: “We strive to only provide the highest quality products with accurate product labeling under our 365 Everyday Value line. This product was tested by a reputable third party lab using FDA-approved testing methodology to determine the labeling.

“We recognize that Consumer Reports is a trusted publication and are looking into why their test results differ from ours.”

Most competitor products contain 5-10g sugar per serving

The plaintiffs all seek injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief.

According to the August 1 complaint filed by Massachusetts-based plaintiff Tracey Knox, who is represented by Cuneo Gilbert & Laduca LLP, Mirabella Law and Baron & Herskowitz, Whole Foods “expressly states on the label that it contains 2 grams of sugar per serving".

However, she claimed: "This statement is false. In fact, in six recent tests conducted by the venerable consumer publication Consumer Reports, the yogurt had 11.4 grams of sugar per serving on average, nearly six times the stated amount.”

The low sugar level listed on the label “raised eyebrows because it is much lower than competitors, which generally range between five and 10 grams of sugar per serving”, said Knox.

The disputed label (picture from the Knox v Whole Foods August 1 lawsuit)

“Consumer Reports indicated that of 27 competitors the closest had two-and-a half- times as much sugar as the Yogurt, this should have raised red flags, yet it apparently did not. Defendant knew or should have known that the information it provided concerning the sugar content of the Yogurt was false.”

The alleged mislabeling was particularly concerning for diabetics who need to monitor sugar intakes carefully, added Knox. ”Defendant’s callous disregard put these people at risk.”

‘Whole Foods knew or should have known that the information it provided was false’

Knox seeks to represent a national class of consumers who bought the product on or after August 1, 2010, and/or a state-wide class of consumers in Massachusetts that purchased the yogurt on or after the same date.

New Jersey plaintiff Mark Bilder and Pennsylvania plaintiffs Carmine Clemente and Samantha Kilgallen, who filed their lawsuits on August 8 and 11 and are represented by law firm DeNittis Osefchen - seek to represent shoppers who purchased the yogurt at Whole Foods’ New Jersey and Pennsylvania stores, respectively.  

*The cases are: Knox v. Whole Foods Market Inc., 14-cv-13185, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts; and Clemente, et al. v. Whole Foods Market Inc., Case No. 140801271, in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.