Annie’s Mac And Cheese Uses Harmful Chemical, Suit Says (Subscription to Law360 required)

  • A putative class action complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on April 1, 2021 against General Mills’ Annie’s macaroni and cheese products.  The named plaintiff alleges that more than twenty products are mislabeled and falsely advertised as “Made with Goodness!” because the presence of ortho-phthalates is not disclosed on the packages.
  • The complaint notes recent findings of phthalates in the cheese powder of other brands of macaroni and cheese products and alleges that General Mills “has tested its macaroni and cheese products and they do contain phthalates.”  Further, the plaintiff points to the FAQ section of Annie’s website, including the statement, “We are troubled by the recent report of phthalates found in dairy ingredients of macaroni and cheese,” as evidence that the defendant “acknowledges the problem.”  While the Annie’s website notes “the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published risk assessment data which notes a Total Daily Intake of 0.05 mg/kg of body weight” as a threshold for levels of phthalates in food, and indicates that “any trace of phthalates are below the EFSA standard,” the plaintiff alleges that Annie’s products “were not safe or healthy for consumption.”
  • Other courts have dismissed similar false advertising claims on the basis that the failure to disclose trace, non-harmful amounts of a chemical does not constitute misleading advertising where the substance is pervasive in the environment and present in many foods.