Ad Alert

Trader Joe’s Brand Fruit Bars

Class-action complaint alleges whole fruit ingredients don't tell the whole story.

Ad Alert

Trader Joe’s Brand Fruit Bars

Trader Joe’s fruit bars are not like the mashed potatoes you buy at the store, says a New York City man suing the grocery chain for false advertising, the comparison aimed at highlighting why the label of the former is misleading.

“This is because the potatoes are brought to a manufacturer, where they are sorted, washed, steamed, chopped and mashed, in one processing line operation,” reads the class-action complaint. That allows the manufacturer to simply list “potatoes” as an ingredient on the label, the complaint says.

Trader Joe’s fruit bars, by contrast, take on “various processed forms” during production, including the transformation of the whole fruit pictured on the front of the packaging into a juice and/or puree and then into powder form, the complaint alleges. As a result, the listing of only two “collective name” ingredients on the label (such as “apples” and “mangoes”) is misleading, according to the complaint.

The complaint states:

Since fruit powder is derived directly from juices and/or purees, it is deceptive and misleading for the Products’ representations to indicate they are made through directly transforming the raw material fruit ingredients into the final product, without the use or addition of any processed derivative products.

The complaint notes that federal and state regulations require that “the name ascribed to an ingredient be a specific name as opposed to a collective name,” pointing to the listing of ingredients like tomato puree and tomato paste on the labels of popular tomato sauces. These specific forms of an ingredient, the complaint argues, have different sensory and nutrient properties than the ingredient as a whole.

It’s true: Fruit juices, for example, are stripped of the fiber in the whole fruit, leading some health experts to recommend whole fruit over fruit juice (and, perhaps, fruit bars).

A Trader Joe’s spokeswoman said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Find more of our coverage on ingredients in food here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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