BROOKLYN, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – The attorney who represents the Beanfield Snack Corp. says a recent class action lawsuit filed against it claiming false advertising is without merit and an attempt to pressure the company into an out-of-court settlement.
The suit, filed Aug 29 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges several varieties of bean-based chips in the company’s product line are falsely marketed as all-natural.
The complaint says the chips contain such ingredients as lactic acid, citric acid, malic acid and tapioca maltodextrin, all recognized as synthetically produced ingredients, as well as lactic acid, which is a naturally occurring ingredient used as a preservative.
Christopher Marston, Beanfield’s legal counsel, said the “all-natural” label was jettisoned last year after a re-branding effort and does not appear on current packaging.
“The packaging that they refer to is old packaging,” he told Legal Newsline. “It’s not even what’s being used today and I’m not even sure where they got it. It doesn’t exist anymore.”
He said the packaging was changed and the all-natural claim dropped because it was determined that “all-natural” is a legally undefined term that wasn’t understood by consumers. He said the term is especially vague under New York consumer law.
“There are so many companies lying to us about product ingredients that it’s just become something that doesn’t mean anything to consumers,” he said.
He said attorneys for the plaintiff in the case have still yet to serve the company with its intent to sue and has failed to communicate its complaints to company officials.
“This is an example of lawyers trying to harass a business into a settlement, and we’re trying to figure it out ourselves,” he said. “It almost seems random. They should just go away.”
He said the Beanfield’s name has become synonymous with healthy snacks, as they are made with a healthier bean base, as opposed to most other corn-based snack products.
“They couldn’t have picked a more honest company to go after,” he said. “There are many food companies that try to mislead us – Beanfield is not one of them.”
He said the company was started as a “benefit corporation” that considers social and environmental issues in its business decisions. He said the family who owns the company continues to adhere to those strict conscience guidelines.
Filed on behalf of Kevin LaPlatney of Nassau County, the suit against Beanfield Snacks seeks a trial by jury and monetary, treble and punitive damages. The suit says if found guilty, the company must change the composition of the listed products in order to comply with New York state consumer protection laws.
The plaintiff is represented by attorneys Jason P. Sultzer of The Sultzer Law Group PC in Poughkeepsie, New York, and by Jeff Brown of Leeds Brown in Carle Place, New York.
The specific varieties of chips mentioned in the suit are Beanfield's Nacho Bean and Rice Chips, Barbeque Bean and Rice Chips, Ranch Bean and Rice Chips and Pico de Gallo Bean and Rice Chips are falsely advertised as having all-natural ingredients.