Amended Complaint Filed in “Adulterated” Chocolate Case Against Mars

Plaintiff Steven Beers filed an amended complaint in a putative class action case against Mars Wrigley Confectionery Monday in the Southern District of New York case which alleged that the company did not honestly identify the chocolate in its Dove products as being mixed with vegetable oil. The amendments were made after Mars answered the defendant’s complaint last month.

The new complaint generally resembles the earlier one in its allegations of fraud and breach of New York consumer protection and warranty laws. However, the amended complaint adds more authority and citations to its claims that consumers expect chocolate to be made from cacao beans and not substitutes. The plaintiff cited dictionary definitions, news stories, consumer interviews, and a regulation that says “where a food has some chocolate but is supplemented by a non-de minimis amount of cacao substitutes, it should be disclosed on the front label as ‘milk chocolate and vegetable oil coating.'”

The complaint went on allege that chocolate made with substitutes is cheaper for the company but harms the consumer because it contains more “empty” calories, tastes different, and has a “waxy” mouthfeel. The plaintiffs also made reference to health benefits of real chocolate and detriments of vegetable oil, a common substitute.

The plaintiff is represented by Sheehan & Associates. Mars is represented by Williams & Connolly. Spencer Sheehan has filed a number of similar food ingredient related cases in recent years, becoming one of the most prolific filers of fraud cases.