Hold the Citric Acid! Pirate’s Booty Hit with Class Action Lawsuit Over “No Preservatives” Claim

pirates booty snack citric acid

Treasure or Trouble? Pirate's Booty Sued Over "Preservative-Free" Claim

Ahoy, mateys! There may be stormy weather ahead for Pirate’s Booty after a new class action lawsuit set sail, accusing the popular snack brand of misleading consumers about its ingredients.

Filed by plaintiffs Lauren Stanzione and Victoria Tyson in New York, the lawsuit takes aim at Pirate’s Booty’s “No Artificial Colors or Preservatives” label. The crux of the complaint? The presence of citric acid in the cheesy puffs, a common food additive that the suit argues functions as a preservative.

Citric Acid: Preservative or Not?

The lawsuit argues that even if citric acid isn't technically classified as a preservative in every instance, its presence in Pirate’s Booty extends shelf life and inhibits bacterial growth – making it a preservative in all but name.

The plaintiffs point out that the FDA considers citric acid a preservative and cite instances where the FDA has warned other companies about failing to disclose citric acid as a preservative on labels.

Marketing a “Healthy” Image?

The complaint paints a picture of The Hershey Company, which owns Pirate’s Booty, capitalizing on the “healthier” perception of products free from artificial preservatives. By highlighting the absence of artificial preservatives on the label, the suit alleges, Hershey steers consumers towards Pirate’s Booty, potentially at a premium price.

“Defendant markets its Product in a systematically misleading manner by misrepresenting that the Product does not contain artificial preservatives,” the plaintiffs contend.

This lawsuit adds to a string of recent cases highlighting consumer concerns about transparency in food labeling. Similar suits have targeted companies for allegedly misleading consumers about the use of “natural” ingredients and undisclosed additives.

In the Pirate’s Booty preservative free class action lawsuit, Stanzione and Tyson seek to represent all U.S. consumers who purchased Pirate’s Booty snacks during the relevant timeframe. The plaintiffs aim to achieve:

  • Damages: Financial compensation for consumers who purchased Pirate’s Booty based on the misleading label.

  • Restitution: Potentially requiring Hershey to buy back the snacks from consumers.

  • Injunctive Relief: An order forcing Hershey to change the labeling of Pirate’s Booty to accurately reflect the presence of citric acid.

Case Details

  • Lawsuit: Stanzione et al v. The Hershey Company
  • Case Number: 1:24-cv-03913-NGG-JAM
  • Court: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Plaintiffs' Attorneys

  • Julian C. Diamond and Alec Leslie (Bursor & Fisher, P.A.)
  • Nick Suciu III (Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, PLLC)



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