SAN FRANCISCO — A district court in California on April 28 approved a class-action settlement involving a labeling case between defendant Bimbo Bakeries USA, Horsham, Pa., a business of Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV, and plaintiffs Alex Ang and Lynn Streit. The decision to approve the settlement comes nearly a month after the court denied a proposed settlement, citing concerns about a lack of notice to absent class members.

The case, which originally was filed on March 18, 2013, involves the alleged misbranding of baked foods under brands such as Oroweat, Thomas’ and Bimbo. Examples of products allegedly labeled improperly included those with the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark without acknowledging the mark is a paid endorsement; products labeled as a “good source of whole grain” or an “excellent source of whole grain”; products labeled as “bread” even though they contained added coloring; and products labeled as “100% whole wheat” even though they were made with non-whole wheat flour.

Talks of a settlement took place in December 2019. The district court held a hearing about it on Feb. 13. The court has raised concerns about the lack of notice to absent class members in the proposed settlement. At that time, both the plaintiffs and the defendants said class notice was not required because the settlement only provides for injunctive relief. The court disagreed in its March 31 ruling. The plaintiffs and defendants reconvened on April 17 to file a new settlement.

Under terms of the new settlement, the parties have agreed to several terms:

  • Issue a joint press release;
  • Post the proposed notice and key case documents on class counsel’s public websites;
  • Post the proposed notice on Grupo Bimbo’s public website, with links to key case documents on class counsel’s websites. The notice will be posted in the “media inquiries” section of Grupo Bimbo’s website, where the company posts product recall information; and
  • In accordance with the Class Action Fairness Act, the parties will notify the United States and California Attorneys General of the settlement.

Although the settlement plan doesn’t provide direct notice to consumers, the court said it understands that direct notice would be “infeasible under the circumstances given the volume of products at issue in this settlement.”

“The court finds that the parties’ proposed notice by publication is still reasonably calculated under the circumstances to apprise all class members of the proposed settlement, and finds in its discretion that the parties’ proposed notice plan is appropriate in this case,” the court said.

Grupo Bimbo has not commented on the lawsuit.