Puffed quinoa snacks presumably would contain mostly quinoa right? Not according to the putative class action lawsuit filed in a New York federal court earlier this year. Lead plaintiff Russell Ransom alleges that defendant I Heart Foods Corp.’s line of “I Heart Keenwah” puffed quinoa snacks are not, as the name implies, primarily quinoa. Rather, although the packaging lists quinoa flour as the first ingredient, because it lists two different rice flours and pea protein immediately thereafter, the combination of the other ingredients likely dwarfs the amount of actual quinoa in each puff according to the complaint. The complaint further details the mechanics of puffing various grains, claiming that the fat, moisture, and starch content of quinoa was unconducive to puffing without heavy augmentation by other grains, and that because “defendant, a recently established firm, may not have the scale or capacity to convert complex grains and cereal products into finished food products . . . It is probable that quinoa flour is not the predominant ingredient in the quinoa puff.” I Heart Foods has yet to answer the suit.
Takeaway: Smaller and newer companies may be at higher risk of false advertising suits due to their perceived vulnerability. Advertisers for such companies may want to trend their marketing toward transparency to minimize the risk of such suits.