Class-action baked bread lawsuit dismissed against Whole Foods and other grocers

By Hal Conick contact

- Last updated on GMT

Claims of Whole Foods and two other grocers misleading consumers were too vague for a New Jersey judge. Stock picture.
Claims of Whole Foods and two other grocers misleading consumers were too vague for a New Jersey judge. Stock picture.

Related tags: United states, Grocery store

Three class-action lawsuits claiming grocers fooled shoppers into believing bread was freshly made in stores were dismissed by a United States District Court judge last week.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas​, of the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, said the claims against Whole Foods Markets Inc., Acme Markets Inc. and Wegmans Food Markets Inc., in the lawsuits were too vague.

There were claims that the grocery stores misrepresented various bread and bakery products as being fresh baked in the store that were actually frozen, processed or baked in another location. Plaintiffs claimed that this was in violation of multiple New Jersey laws.

Specifically, the Whole Foods case claimed signs like “MADE IN HOUSE BREAD”​ and “FRESHLY BOILED & PLAIN BAGEL”​ were tricking shoppers into buying what they believed was a product made fresh in the store.

The decision

Irenas wrote that he was dismissing claims because they were too vague and the plaintiffs did not show that they overpaid for the bread products.

“Defendants’ stores contain numerous bread and bakery products,” ​Irenas wrote. “The signs advertising such products change often. This is not a case in which all relevant items were stamped ‘freshly baked.’”

Ireans said there was not enough “precision” in the complaint to put any of the grocers on notice for the claims, as there was no real notice of which signs or advertisements were misrepresented.

No real loss

Irenas said the plaintiffs didn’t demonstrate where they experienced any real loss, as they said they “would not have purchased the bread and bakery products, would not have paid as much for the products or would have purchased alternative products,”​ instead of the bread.

The plaintiffs never stated which products they bought or the prices they paid, so the judge could not see a reason to award them any money for out-of-pocket losses.

Related topics: Convenience, Bread, Regulation & Safety

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