Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Ezekiel 4:9 Manufacturer for Misleading Protein Claims

Yesterday, two consumers filed a class-action complaint in the Northern District of California against Food for Life Baking Co. for unlawful and deceptive business practices, since the defendants’ products allegedly do not contain as much protein as advertised.

The plaintiffs noted the defendant manufactures “Ezekiel 4:9” food products, such as breads and cereals, that claim “7g plant-based protein per serving” on the front of its packaging. The FDA requires that all food producers use the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) “to determine the amount of essential amino acids that the food contains and then combine that into a discount factor score based on humans’ ability to digest the amino acid profile,” according to the complaint. Reportedly, for plant-based proteins, as used in the Ezekiel 4:9 products, the score is 0.4-0.5, meaning “only 40-50% of the protein from those sources will be digested and available to humans.” Furthermore, there is no percent daily value listed for protein on these products, which is considered “unlawful” based on FDA rules.

The plaintiffs claimed that a reasonable consumer would expect that all seven grams of protein would be digestible, as opposed to less than half of the total protein contents, and that “consumers lack the meaningful ability to test or independently ascertain the truthfulness of Defendant’s food labeling claims.” Therefore, the plaintiffs are suing on the counts of false advertising and fraudulent trade practices as violations of the Business and Professions Code, a violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, common law fraud, and unjust enrichment.

The plaintiffs seek class certification, injunctive relief enjoining the defendants from continuing their unlawful business practices, compensatory damages, statutory damages, punitive damages, treble damages, restitution, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.

The plaintiffs are represented by Gutride Safier LLP.