On April 17, 2018, the Northern District of New York dismissed a false advertising case against the Hain Celestial Group, Inc. based on the allegedly misleading packaging of Hain’s “Garden Veggie Straws.” Solak v. Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-00704 (N.D.N.Y). In particular, plaintiff took umbrage with depictions on the product’s packaging, including images of fresh vegetables and the use of the words “garden” and “veggie.” These depictions, plaintiff claimed, misled consumers into believing the straws contained “significant” amounts of whole vegetables and were healthful and nutritious. Not so, held the court. The court found that the challenged statements and images were not misrepresentations and would not mislead a reasonable consumer.
In its opinion, the court noted that the images of the Straws themselves made it sufficiently clear to consumers the nature of the product they bargained for. As the court described, the images depicted a “processed, unnaturally-colored ‘straw’ snack resembling a chip or crisp.” A reasonable consumer would be familiar with the “fact of life” that a chip-like snack was not composed primarily of fresh vegetables. Even more, a reasonable consumer need only refer to the ingredient list on the package to resolve any ambiguity about the vegetable content of the product.
The court also dismissed plaintiff’s express warranty claim. The court reasoned that defendant’s representations, even when considered collectively, were insufficient as a matter of law to mislead a reasonable consumer, and therefore could not be relied upon by plaintiff as grounds for asserting a breach of express warranty under New York or California law.