A class action lawsuit claims that Swiss Miss hot chocolate mixes contain alkalized cocoa and not cocoa in its purest form, as implied in advertisements.
Plaintiff Mishari Aleisa filed the class action against Conagra Brands Inc., the makers of Swiss Miss hot chocolate mixes.
Aleisa says she purchased Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix, which was marketed as “Simply Cocoa” and “Made with Real Cocoa.”
The Swiss Miss false advertising class action lawsuit claims that Swiss Miss is made with alkalized cocoa, which is a substantially inferior quality cocoa compared to all natural cocoa.
According to Aleisa, Conagra Brands continues to misrepresent its hot chocolate products as containing the simplest form of real cocoa. Instead, the products are allegedly made from alkalized cocoa, which is considerably different from cocoa in its purest form.
Alkalized cocoa is reportedly made by transforming cocoa beans into cocoa powder. Allegedly, this is done by crushing cocoa nibs — the edible portion of the cocoa bean, into a paste, melting the fat content (cocoa butter) out of them, and combining the ground nibs and cocoa butter into chocolate liquor.
The Swiss Miss class action lawsuit goes on to state that the liquor is then pressed into cakes, which are grated into powders.
Allegedly, multiple types of powders are produced depending on the amount of cocoa butter in the powder. The Swiss Miss class action lawsuit claims that cocoa can be used at this stage, or it can be further processed through alkalization.
The hot chocolate powder class action lawsuit says that during the alkalization process, the powder is soaked in an alkali solution of ammonium, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, carbonate, hydroxide, or magnesium carbonate/oxide. Allegedly, this process makes the cocoa powder less acidic, and makes it darker in color.
The alkalization process reportedly changes the flavor, and makes it taste less like “real cocoa.” Additionally, the alkalization process removes healthy properties in the powder, like polyphenols and flavonoids.
The Swiss Miss class action claims that customers seek out real cocoa for both its flavor and its health benefits, including antioxidant properties linked to an improvement of cardiovascular health, lowered cholesterol, and lowered blood pressure.
Aleisa says that Conagra Foods is aware of this preference, and advertises its Swiss Miss cocoa powder as “Simply Cocoa” to mislead customers into thinking that the cocoa is in its purest form.
Customers allegedly associate words like “pure,” “simple” or “100%” to indicate that the product is natural, which customers prefer because of its associations with health and high quality.
The plaintiff says customers may not have purchased Swiss Miss products had they known that the product was made with alkalized cocoa instead of cocoa in its simplest form.
Have you purchased Swiss Miss believing that it was made of cocoa in its simplest form? Tell us more.
Aleisa is represented by Abbas Kazerounian, Jason Ibey and Nick Barthel of Kazerouni Law Group APC.
The Swiss Miss Real Cocoa False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit is Mishari Aleisa v. Conagra Brands Inc., Case No. 3:19-cv-07520-TSH, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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