Lily’s Chocolate: Lawsuit Claims Misleading Sweetener Labels

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Consumers Say The Hershey Company Deceived Them By Using A Sugar Alcohol To Sweeten Lily’s Chocolate Products.

A group of consumers have been left feeling sour after discovering Lily’s ‘Stevia sweetened’ chocolate range contains another type of sweetener, according to a new lawsuit.

California consumers Nicole Loza, Kimberly Hall and Nicole Rivera filed a proposed class action lawsuit against The Hershey Company on March 8, alleging violations of state and federal consumer laws. 

The Hershey Company makes the Lily’s chocolate brand, which includes a range of bars, baking chips, dark chocolate almonds, peanut butter cups and more. The plaintiffs say the company tricked them with the products’ packaging, claiming they are sweetened using Stevia, when they’re actually sweetened mostly with a sugar alcohol called erythritol.

“Defendant’s labeling of the Lily’s chocolates as ‘Stevia Sweetened’ is designed to – and does – deceive, mislead, and defraud consumers like the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states.

Did health-conscious chocolate lovers pay more for Stevia?

The Lily’s chocolate products are prominently labeled with the words “Stevia Sweetened,” and are priced at a premium because of this, the consumers say.

They say consumers are drawn to foods sweetened with Stevia because it is a natural, plant-based sugar alternative with known health benefits. Some of those benefits include antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects, they say, plus improved kidney function. 

But, if the consumer reads the ingredient list closely, they will see that the chocolate is more heavily sweetened with erythritol, a highly processed sugar alcohol, the lawsuit says.

"As shown on the ingredient list.. the products contain far more erythritol than Stevia."

Erythritol can be harmful, lawsuit says

The chocolate lovers say consumers don’t know that the product they are consuming in place of Stevia can cause health issues. 

They point to recent studies that found erythritol is “disruptive to gut health and is linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.” 

Even if consumers had looked at the ingredient list, they probably wouldn’t have known what it was, or known the dangers, the lawsuit says. 

“Reasonable consumers do not know what erythritol is, how it is manufactured or even that it is a sweetener,” it states. “Nor do reasonable consumers know of the health risks associated with consuming erythritol.” 

Plaintiffs want to represent chocolate lovers nationwide 

As a result of The Hershey Company’s “unlawful and misleading” claims, chocolate lovers nationwide have been forced to pay a price premium for Lily’s products, the plaintiffs say.

They say they would have paid significantly less for the products, or would not have bought them at all, had they known the truth.

The consumers are looking to represent anyone in the United States who bought the “Stevia Sweetened” products between March 8 and now, plus a California subclass.

They’re suing for violations of California consumer laws, fraud, unfair business practices and unjust enrichment. The consumers are seeking certification of the class action, fees, costs, damages and a jury trial. 

The plaintiffs and the proposed class of consumers are represented by Seth A. Safier, Marie A. McCrary and Hayley A. Reynolds of Gutride Safier LLP. 

The Lily’s chocolate class action lawsuit is Loza et al., v. The Hershey Company, Case No. 3:24-cv-01455 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.