Donna Burns alleged in a class-action complaint before the Southern District of Illinois that the Betty Crocker brand dry Fudge Brownie Mix, sold by General Mills Sales Inc., is sold under a misleading label and does not accurately represent the amount of fudge in the brownies.
The plaintiff claimed that the representation of the brownies on the packaging “gives consumers the impression it contains a greater relative and absolute amount of the expected fudge ingredients than it does.” The complaint noted that fudge is a mixture of sugar, butter, and milk and that “milkfat is the central component” of any flavor of fudge. It cited multiple published recipes and dictionary definitions to back up these ingredients and their prominence in fudge.
According to the sources cited in the complaint, fudge is primarily different from chocolate because of the fat content from the milk ingredients, which in a dry cake mix could be a milk or buttermilk powder. It specified that milk fats, which are also found in butter, melt at mouth temperature and “impart a creamy, rich taste to fudge.” The plaintiff claimed that oils provided by margarine or vegetable oils are advised against in multiple recipes, do not add to the flavor, and “leave a waxy mouthfeel.”
In addition to alleging that the packaging misleads consumers, Burns alleged that federal and Illinois regulations would require a product with the ingredients in this brownie mix to be labeled as a chocolate flavored mix rather than fudge, because it “lacks essential fudge ingredients,” specifically, milkfat, and contains instead “lower quality and lower-priced palm oil.”
The plaintiff alleged that she and other consumers assume when they see “fudge” on a label that there will be dairy ingredients with milk fat. Even though this product is a dry mix, Burns claimed that there were ways to add “at least a semblance of fudge ingredients.” The complaint claimed that in addition to giving a waxy mouthfeel, products with vegetable oils instead of dairy ingredients have more negative health impacts than those made with dairy.
“The front label fails to inform consumers that if they want a ‘Fudge Brownie Mix,’ they will have to supply their own fudge,” the complaint said. Burns argued that if the defendant keeps the current title, they should be required to add in bold letters “contains no fudge” directly below the product’s name.
Burns is represented by Sheehan & Associates P.C.