Duncan Hines' use of 'nothing artificial' prompts lawsuit

by Eric Schroeder
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Duncan Hines Simple Mornings Blueberry Streusel Premium Muffin Mix
At issue is Pinnacle’s labeling on its Duncan Hines Simple Mornings Blueberry Streusel Premium Muffin Mix.

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Pinnacle Foods Group L.L.C., owner of the Duncan Hines brand, has denied “each and every allegation, statement, matter and thing” contained in a recent complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division.

At issue is Pinnacle’s labeling on its Duncan Hines Simple Mornings Blueberry Streusel Premium Muffin Mix. According to a lawsuit filed earlier this year, Pinnacle is violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act by labeling the mix as containing “nothing artificial.”

In reality, the mix contains monocalcium phosphate and xanthan gum, both of which the plaintiff in the case claims are artificial, synthetic substances. The plaintiff in the case, Erika Thornton, contends that Pinnacle’s representation that the mix contains “nothing artificial” is “false, deceptive, and misleading.”

On Aug. 1, Pinnacle filed a motion to dismiss, but the motion was denied after the court found Pinnacle’s arguments “unpersuasive.”

“Whether a reasonable consumer would be deceived by a product label is generally a question of fact that cannot be resolved on a motion to dismiss,” the court said.

Duncan Hines Simple Mornings Blueberry Streusel Premium Muffin Mix ingredients list
The Duncan Hines mix contains monocalcium phosphate and xanthan gum.

The court found no basis to disregard the plaintiff’s allegations that she was deceived by the language on the box, especially considering she pointed out the mix contains monocalcium phosphate and xanthan gum.

“The court finds it plausible that a consumer might rely on the representation ‘nothing artificial’ without looking at the ingredients, or that a consumer might not know that monocalcium phosphate and xanthan gum are ‘artificial’ ingredients,” the court noted.

In a subsequent filing on Aug. 15, Pinnacle denied each and every allegation that has been brought forth in the case.   
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READER COMMENTS (2)

By Mariel F. 5/17/2017 11:54:41 AM
I just called Dunkin Hines regarding the Gaur Gum and if it contains soy. They couldn't tell me. This is incredibly problematic considering how allergenic soy is!!!

By Marie Moore 8/18/2016 10:44:33 AM
If indeed they are misleading the consumer, then I hope they pay LARGE!!! NOt sure how those ingredients are anywhere NOT artificial. Maybe the stuff grows on trees...who knows!