Class Action Lawsuit Claims Albertsons Cereal Bars Not So Natural

albertsons blueberry cereal bars

Lawsuit Alleges Artificial Flavoring Derived from Petrochemicals in Signature Select Bars

A California man who likes to eat “clean” has filed a class action lawsuit against Albertsons Companies Inc., accusing the grocery giant of misleading consumers about the ingredients in its Signature Select Fruit & Grain breakfast cereal bars. The lawsuit alleges that the bars, marketed as "naturally flavored," actually contain an artificial flavoring derived from petrochemicals.

Capitalizing on the "Clean Label" Trend?

Mark Trammell, the plaintiff, argues that Albertsons leverages the growing consumer demand for minimally processed and natural foods. He claims the company portrays its Signature Select bars as natural to attract health-conscious consumers.

According to the lawsuit, the global trend to eat foods that are free of artificial flavors and preservatives has led to “an explosion” in the category of clean label foods and beverages, with about $191 billion in annual sales in 2023. 

Trammell says Albertsons has taken advantage of the trend by marketing its products as natural, to appeal to health-conscious consumers. However, he believes the Signature Select Fruit & Grain cereal bars are falsely marketed. 

“The front label of the products state that [they] are ‘Naturally Flavored,” Trammell says. “These labeling claims are false. The products are flavored using an artificial flavoring, DL malic acid, that is derived from petrochemicals.”

The "Natural" Label May Not Be So Natural

The lawsuit challenges the "naturally flavored" label on the Blueberry and Strawberry flavored bars. Trammell alleges the bars contain DL-malic acid, an artificial flavoring derived from chemicals like benzene and butane, found in gasoline and lighter fluid.

While malic acid can occur naturally in fruits, DL-malic acid is synthetically produced, according to the lawsuit. Trammell's lawyers reportedly confirmed the presence of DL-malic acid through independent testing.

“Federal regulations note explicitly that “DL-malic acid does not occur naturally,” Trammell says. 

“If a food product’s characterizing flavor is not created exclusively by the named flavor ingredient, the product’s front label must state that the product’s flavor was simulated or reinforced with either natural or artificial flavorings or both.” 

Missing Disclosures Violate Label Regulations, Lawsuit Claims

Federal regulations require clear labeling for products containing artificial flavors, according to the lawsuit. Trammell argues the Signature Select bars lack these disclosures, violating consumer protection laws.

This is not the first time Albertsons has faced a class action lawsuit. Last year, Safeway and Albertsons agreed to pay $107 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging they violated Oregon laws by raising the price of certain meat products sold in their “Buy One, Get One Free” and “Buy One, Get Two Free” promotions, to prices above the regular retail prices.

In the Albertsons cereal bars lawsuit, Trammell seeks to represent California residents who purchased the bars in the past four years. The lawsuit demands:

  • Financial Reimbursement: Compensation for consumers misled by the labeling.
  • Accurate Labeling: Albertsons to clearly disclose ingredients on future packaging.
  • Class Action Certification: To represent a broader group of affected consumers.
  • Jury Trial: The right to have a jury decide the case.

Case Details

  • Lawsuit: Trammell v. Albertsons Companies Inc.
  • Case Number: 3:24-cv-00862-AJB-AHG
  • Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

Plaintiffs' Attorneys

  • Charles C. Weller (Charles C. Weller APC)



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