Lawsuit Alleges that TGI Fridays Onion Rings Made Without Real Onions
On June 10, 2021, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Inventure Foods, Inc., which manufactures and sells its “Onion Ring Snacks” under the TGI Fridays brand name, for allegedly deceiving consumers by advertising the snacks as onion rings when they contain only de minimis amounts of real onion.
The complaint alleges that the product (as disclosed by the ingredient list) primarily consists of cornmeal and contains onion only in the form of trace amounts of onion powder (onion powder is the third-most predominant ingredient). Interestingly, the complaint does not allege a violation of FDA’s food labeling regulations. Instead, the complaint acknowledges that the product is labeled as “naturally and artificially flavored,” but alleges that the disclosure on the front package is too small to be easily seen by consumers and, in any case, “fails to tell consumers the Product substitutes onion powder for real onions.”
The lawsuit is another in a string of recent lawsuits filed by Sheehan & Associates, P.C., which claim consumers are deceived by the labeling of products whose flavors are largely derived from ingredients other than the ingredient in question (e.g., onion), even in the absence of a clear FDA labeling violation (see also Kashi Strawberry bar and Tostito lawsuits). Although compliance with FDA’s labeling regulations does not foreclose the possibility that a court could find a reasonable consumer has been deceived, it should in theory present a more difficult case for the plaintiff. Keller and Heckman will continue to monitor and report on these cases.