A class action lawsuit has been filed against Blue Diamond Growers by a consumer who claims that their Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds contain artificial flavors even though it is not disclosed on the front label.
Plaintiff Matthew Colpitts says that Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds purport to obtain their flavor from actually being smoked. The plaintiff alleges that the representations on the label of the product reinforce this idea with terms and phrases like “Blue Diamond Almonds,” “Smokehouse” “2g Net Carbs,” and “Smart Eating!”
The Blue Diamond Almonds class action states that the front picture of the product makes representations that the products primary recognizable flavor is because it is smoked, by using the term “Smokehouse” and a color scheme of red and orange, which evokes fire-related ideas in consumers’ thinking.
Smoking is a type of food preparation where wood chips are used to cook food over a fire, according to the plaintiff. The wood chips are reportedly used to provide different types of flavors. For example, hickory wood chips are used to provide a hearty yet sweet flavor to nuts and meat.
When terms like “smoke” are used when describing a product without using qualifying words like flavor or flavored, consumers will get the impression that the food is being prepared by actual smoking, according to the Blue Diamond class action lawsuit.
Colpitts explains that, without any qualifying terms around the word “Smokehouse,” a reasonable customer would believe that the almonds contain smoke flavor from actually being smoked and not from artificial flavoring.
Additionally, the plaintiff says that even though the term “Smokehouse” has a trademark sign next to it, that doesn’t put the consumer on notice that the almonds are not actually smoked and that the smoke taste is due to an added flavor.
“There is no reason to expect that because a representation may carry a trademark registration that it should mean the thing described is false or that it is necessarily fanciful,” states the Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds class action lawsuit.
The plaintiff goes on to say that no reasonable consumer would be so distrustful or skeptical of a product labeled only as “Smokehouse Almonds” that they would check the ingredients to see whether it disclosed a “smoke flavor.” In addition, no reasonable consumer would check the truthfulness of the front label claims as actual smoked almonds are a not unheard of delicacy, the plaintiff maintains.
The Blue Diamond Almonds class action maintains that the phrase “NATURAL HICKORY SMOKE FLAVOR” on ingredients on the back of the product means that the smoke flavor does not come from actual smoking of the almonds, but from added smoke flavor.
Therefore, the term “Smokehouse” is deceptive and misleading to consumers in that the product’s taste is not derived from any smoking treatment, according to the plaintiff.
The Blue Diamond class action notes that competitors products are labeled as “Smoked Almonds” but prominently discloses on the front of the package that the smoking comes from “natural flavors.”
Unfortunately, according to the plaintiff, even if consumers would look at the labeling on the back of the product and see “NATURAL HICKORY SMOKE FLAVOR,” that doesn’t mean that they would know that the almonds weren’t actually smoked.
Had the plaintiff known the truth about the product, that the almonds do not come from an actual smoking process, he would not have purchased the product or would have paid less for it, Colpitts states.
“Consumers prefer foods that have the characteristics they seek due to their natural production process,” the Blue Diamond class action lawsuit says. In addition, consumers would like actual smoked almonds, not anything that comes from flavoring, Colpitts notes.
The plaintiff concludes by stating that the defendant had a duty to disclose that the smoking came from smoking flavor rather than actual smoking the product.
As a result of the false and misleading label, the Blue Diamond Almonds are allegedly sold at a premium price of no less than $2.79 per 1.5 oz including tax, which the plaintiff argues is much higher than that of its competitors.
The plaintiff alleges that the defendant has violated the New York General Business Law and has filed claims for negligent misrepresentation, breach of express warranty, and breach of implied warranty, fraud, and unjust enrichment.
“Defendant’s conduct was misleading, deceptive, unlawful, fraudulent, and unfair because it gives the impression to consumers the Product gets its smoke taste (flavor) from being smoked as opposed to added smoke flavor,” according to the Blue Diamond class action lawsuit.
Did you buy Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds thinking that they were actually smoked? Leave a message in the comments section below.
The plaintiff is represented by Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates, P.C.
The Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds Class Action Lawsuit is Matthew Colpitts v. Blue Diamond Growers, Case No. 1:20-cv-02487, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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