Frivolous Food Lawsuits | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

Frivolous Food Lawsuits

Everybody eats. And almost anybody can get a lawyer these days—which means there are plenty of food-related lawsuits each year.Now, I can certainly understand the complaints based on illness or even death from contaminated food products. I'd consider suing, too, if I found a rat in my salad, a snak...

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Everybody eats. And almost anybody can get a lawyer these days—which means there are plenty of food-related lawsuits each year.

Now, I can certainly understand the complaints based on illness or even death from contaminated food products. I'd consider suing, too, if I found a rat in my salad, a snake in my broccoli, or way too much fiber in my granola. And I can see some merit in the Center for Science in the Public Interest's efforts to press food manufacturers for truth in labeling.

But here's a recent case that seems to fall squarely in the "frivolous" category...



Crunchberries are not really fruit, in case you wondered. Courtesy Flickr user Thibodeau.
Crunchberries are not found in nature. Courtesy Flickr user Thibodeau.
Crunchberries aren't real fruit?!?

A California woman filed a class-action lawsuit against PepsiCo, the corporation that makes the sugary "Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries" cereal. The front of the box features a perky cartoon sea captain holding out a spoonful of colorful round nuggets that vaguely resemble berries (well, if berries came in colors like teal).

The woman contended that "the colorful Crunchberries, combined with use of the word 'berry' in the product name, convey the message that Cap'n Crunch is not all sugar and starch, but contains redeeming fruit...In actuality, the Product contains no berries of any kind...Had she known that the product contained no fruit, she would not have purchased it."

The judge granted the defendant's motion to dismiss, citing the precedent of a similar case involving Froot Loops. Seriously.

What's next, someone discovering the shocking truth about Grape Nuts cereal? Or that there are no real rocks in Cocoa Pebbles?
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About Amanda Bensen

Amanda Bensen is a former assistant editor at Smithsonian and is now a senior editor at the Nature Conservancy.

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