Wed, Sep 27, 2023

Starbucks faces lawsuit over alleged lack of fruit ingredients in refreshers

Written by  Jasleen Kaur -- September 19th 2023 05:00 PM
Starbucks faces lawsuit over alleged lack of fruit ingredients in refreshers

Starbucks faces lawsuit over alleged lack of fruit ingredients in refreshers

PTC Web Desk: A federal judge has ordered that Starbucks must face a lawsuit that alleges some of its fruit-based refresher beverages did not contain the expected fruit ingredients. US District Judge John Cronan, based in Manhattan, declined Starbucks' request to dismiss nine out of the 11 claims in the proposed class action.

The judge stated that "a significant portion of reasonable consumers" would reasonably assume that the fruits mentioned in the drink names would be present.

Customers had raised concerns that Starbucks' beverages, including 'Mango Dragonfruit', 'Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade', 'Pineapple Passionfruit', 'Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade', 'Strawberry Açai', and 'Strawberry Açai Lemonade Refreshers', did not contain the advertised mango, passion fruit, or açai. According to the plaintiffs, Joan Kominis from Astoria, New York, and Jason McAllister from Fairfield, California, the primary ingredients were water, grape juice concentrate, and sugar. They argued that Starbucks' misleading labels led to overcharging, which violated consumer protection laws in their respective states.

Starbucks, headquartered in Seattle, argued that the product names referred to the drinks' flavours rather than their ingredients and insisted that its menu boards accurately depicted these flavours. The company also asserted that no reasonable consumer would be confused, and any confusion could have been addressed by its baristas.

However, the judge disagreed, pointing out that unlike terms like "vanilla," the terms "mango," "passionfruit," and "aça­" typically implied the presence of the ingredient as well as the flavour. Cronan also suggested that confusion might arise because other Starbucks products incorporated ingredients into their names, such as the Ice Matcha Tea Latte containing matcha or the Honey Citrus Mint Tea containing honey and mint.

The judge did dismiss a fraud claim, as there was no evidence to suggest that Starbucks intended to defraud consumers, along with an unjust enrichment claim.

Starbucks responded with a statement refuting the allegations in the lawsuit as "inaccurate and without merit" and expressing its readiness to defend itself.

This lawsuit was initiated in August 2022 and sought damages of at least $5 million. Robert Abiri, the plaintiffs' attorney, expressed satisfaction with the judge's decision and looked forward to representing the proposed class.

- With inputs from agencies


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