Court Agrees to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Hostess’ Carrot-less Carrot Cake Donut
On February 19, a California federal judge agreed to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit that alleged Hostess Brands Inc. misled consumers into believing its carrot cake mini doughnuts contained actual carrots. U.S. District Judge Sallie Kim granted the motion after the parties filed a joint stipulation which dismissed the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice, and without prejudice to all putative class member claims. Neither the stipulation nor the order stated the reason for the dismissal.
The lawsuit was filed on August 25, 2020 by Elena Lauchung-Nacarino and alleged that Hostess failed to disclose that no real carrots were used as ingredients in the mini doughnuts. Lauchung-Nacarino argued that consumers expect carrot cake to contain a substantial amount of real carrots, and that the Hostess mini doughnuts are the only major carrot cake product without any real carrots.
As previously reported, Hostess responded to the complaint by arguing that “carrot cake” refers to the taste of the doughnuts, rather than the presence of carrots as an ingredient, and that the absence of carrots in the ingredient statement, along with there being no picture of carrots on the label, shows there are no actual carrots in the pastries. Further, Hostess argued that plaintiff’s allegations are undermined by the fact that plaintiff first bought the doughnuts in 2019, when the product label had a disclaimer saying “naturally and artificially flavored carrot cake mini donuts.”