NEW YORK — US District Judge P. Kevin Castel of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Nov. 9 dismissed a class action lawsuit against Pepperidge Farm, Inc. that claimed the company’s packaging for its Golden Butter crackers was misleading or deceptive.
The complaint, filed by Hawa Kamara, acknowledged that while the product contains butter, consumers who see the packaging are misled into thinking that they are buying “a cracker which is all or predominantly made with butter,” when, in fact, the Golden Butter crackers also contain vegetable oils. Ms. Kamara argued that most consumers prefer butter-based products over products containing vegetable oils, making the case that butter tastes better, “is rich in nutrients like calcium and vitamins A and D,” does not contain trans fats, is more expensive, and “is less processed, since it is made by churning cow’s milk, instead of chemical reactions to make vegetable oils.”
But according to Mr. Castel, the product’s packaging “accurately indicated that the product contained butter, and the ingredients list confirmed that butter predominated over other oils and fats.”
“Butter is the second ingredient listed in the ingredients list, after flour but ahead of vegetable oils, suggesting that butter predominates over other fats or oils,” Mr. Castel wrote in his opinion.
He continued, “A reasonable consumer could believe that Golden Butter described the product’s flavor and was not a representation about ingredient proportions. A reasonable consumer who encountered defendant’s packaging would accurately understand the ‘Golden Butter’ cracker to be shortened and flavored with butter. The complaint does not plausibly allege why a reasonable consumer also would believe that the use of butter precluded secondary usage of other fats or oils, either as an additional shortener or for external application to enhance the crackers’ appearance.”
Mr. Castel granted Pepperidge Farm’s motion to dismiss “in its entirety.”