AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - Whole Foods Market has removed a Greek yogurt from its shelves after Consumer Reports looked into its sugar content and class action lawsuits were filed against the company.
Michael Silverman said while the company investigates Consumer Reports claims, it has removed the 365 Everyday Value Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt from store shelves.
"We strive to only provide the highest quality products with accurate product labeling under our 365 Everyday Value line," Silverman said. "This product was tested by a reputable third-party lab using FDA-approved testing methodology to determine the labeling."
Silverman said even though the yogurt was removed from shelves, Whole Foods offers a variety of other nonfat plain Greek yogurt options for shoppers to choose from.
The class action lawsuit claims Whole Foods' Everyday Value nonfat plain Greek yogurt's label stated that it had only two grams of sugar per serving, when in fact, it had 11.4 grams of sugar.
Stephen Kubrick, the plaintiff in the Texas federal court class action complaint, said he first began purchasing the product in June 2011.
Whole Foods' website said registered dietitians examined the labels of its 365 Everyday Value line to ensure accuracy, and Whole Foods holds itself out as a healthy alternative to typical, non-organic grocery stores, according to the suit.
Kubick said he was willing to pay Whole Foods' higher price for the healthy yogurt option, which listed a significantly lower sugar level on its label than competitors' brands, so he repeatedly bought the product.
Consumer Reports later concluded that the yogurt actually contains more than 11 grams of sugar, and that Whole Foods either knew or should have known that its label was inaccurate, according to the suit.
Competitors' products contained at least five grams of sugar or more, and even plain Greek yogurt naturally contains more than two grams of sugar as lactose, the complaint says.
Kubick claimed had he known the true sugar content of the product, he would not have bought it or would have sought a cheaper price.
Kubick brought the class action on behave of himself and anyone who purchased the yogurt anytime since Nov. 7, 2010.
He claims Whole Foods violated the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the Unfair Competition Law on behalf of the California class and breach of express and implied warranty on behalf of both classes.
Kubick is seeking certification of the class, appointment as the class representative, judgment that the defendant must yield all profits from the wrongful acts, damages, judgment enjoining the defendant from continuing such unlawful practice, attorneys fees and interest. The complaint said damages are estimated to exceed $5 million.
Kubick is represented in the case by attorneys Marc Stanley and Martin Woodward of Stanley Law Group in Dallas; Shannon Hopkins, Nancy Kulesa and Stephanie Bartone of Levi & Korsinsky LLP in Stamford, Conn.; Janine Pollack of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP in New York; and Matthew Zevin of Stanley Law Group in San Diego.
At least one other class action lawsuit has been filed against Whole Foods over the nonfat plaint Greek yogurt. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in August.
Tracey M. Knox, the plaintiff in the Massachusetts complaint, claimed on multiple times during the last several years, she had purchased the yogurt because of its purported health benefits, including the low sugar content.
Although Knox was unaware of the Consumer Reports information concerning the false information the defendant provided about the yogurt at the time of the purchase, the plaintiff’s purchase occurred after the defendant was made aware of the discrepancies demonstrated by Consumer Reports’ testing, according to the suit.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas case number 1:14-cv-01013.
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at email@example.com.