MANHATTAN, NY. — A lawsuit involving Whole Foods Market’s labeling of honey graham crackers is set to proceed following a Feb. 2 opinion issued by US District Judge Gregory Woods in the US District Court Southern District of New York.
As part of the lawsuit, Chandra Campbell has alleged that when she saw a box at Whole Foods touting “Honey Graham Crackers,” she understood that the crackers were made mostly of whole wheat flour, rather than refined flour. She also believed the crackers were sweetened predominantly with natural honey, rather than sugar or some other sweetener. In both instances, the ingredients were not what Ms. Campbell expected, according to the lawsuit.
“Because plaintiff has plausibly alleged that the references to ‘honey’ and ‘graham’ on the product’s packaging are likely to lead a reasonable consumer to wrongly believe that these graham crackers contain more whole grain flour than non-whole grain flour, and that honey is their predominant sweetener, plaintiff’s consumer protection claims under Sections 349 and 350 of the New York General Business Obligation Law are adequately pleaded,” Judge Woods wrote in the Feb. 2 opinion.
In the opinion, Judge Woods referenced the packaging for the product, which contains the words “Honey Graham” in large letters above the word “crackers” in smaller font. The packaging also features a honey dipper rising from a bowl.
In letting the case proceed, Judge Woods cited a 2018 federal appeals court’s revival of a lawsuit against Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. for labeling its Cheez-Its crackers as “whole grain” when the primary grain content was enriched white flour.
While Judge Woods is allowing the consumer protection claim lawsuit to proceed, he denied Ms. Campbell’s auxiliary tort and warranty claims.
Whole Foods Market has not commented on the lawsuit.