A California resident is suing Texas Pete hot sauce because it’s made in North Carolina. This is not something the brand is trying to hide. The About Us section of Texas Pete’s website begins, “So how is it that a tasty red pepper sauce made in North Carolina happens to be named ‘Texas Pete’ anyway?”

Two other consumers are claiming Barilla’s tagline, “Italy’s No. 1 brand of pasta” led them to believe the product was made in Italy.

Is there something in our food supply damaging our cognitive ability?

For fun, I scanned my pantry for potentially litigious items. Near East is a brand of tabbouleh I buy and I learned it’s distributed out of Chicago. I’m in Michigan and Chicago is technically “near west.” I move to the fridge and see the Coors beer I bought for a get together. I scan the bottle for lawsuit language see a bold claim that the beer is “Cold as the Rockies.” Is it though? Can that be proven in a court of law? Do I have a case? Well, I have a pun but probably no case. Kidding aside, food and beverage lawsuits are no laughing matter.

According to The National Law Review, there has been an upward trend in the number of new putative consumer class actions alleging misleading food labeling continued in 2021 with most cases filed in the California and an increasing number were filed in courts in the Midwest, especially Illinois.

“Courts continue to scrutinize challenged labels through the eyes of the “reasonable consumer” — a judicially imagined person deemed representative of a significant portion (though less than 50%) of the target consuming public acting reasonably in the circumstances. While all of the information on a package and the context in which it is presented is considered, a reasonable consumer generally is not required to test an ambiguous front label claim against additional information on the back label, particularly for lower priced items.”

Why are we seeing an increase in this type of “unreasonable consumer”? Are they suing to pad a depleted 401K? Is it just a creative way to offset inflated grocery prices? Or have we become so fragile minded we can’t comprehend brand copy nuance?

I don’t know what it is but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Kristin Joker
Editor in Chief
(248) 227-4727