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Consumers Go After Companies for Misleading Claims

A legal trend wherein consumers take on national food and beverage companies in court over misleading advertising continues to take hold in the U.S., reports NPR. Starbucks is one of the chains under fire. 

Plaintiffs often argue that companies are using deceptive marketing tactics to misrepresent their products, either through a featured ingredient that isn’t there or using promotional images that hyperbolize real-life items.

"In general, companies can say great things about their product and make any kind of opinion claims they want to make about it. They can even say it's the best in the world," said Louis Tompros, an intellectual property attorney at the law firm WilmerHale in Boston. "Opinion claims about a product are called puffery, and they're perfectly fine under false advertising law. What false advertising law does not allow is a false factual claim.”

Two consumers have recently sued Starbucks for consumer protection law violations over the chains' fruit-based drinks. The drinks in question are missing critical ingredients: Mango Dragonfruit Starbucks Refreshers are missing mango, Strawberry Açaí Starbucks Refreshers lack açaí and Pineapple Passionfruit Starbucks Refreshers have no passion fruit.

Starbucks attempted to dismiss the case, however, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled this week that the case could continue. In response, a spokesperson for Starbucks said the allegations are “inaccurate and without merit.” Full Story

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