Last week, a putative class action lawsuit was filed against Aldi Inc. regarding certain Beaumont Coffee products sold in its stores. According to the complaint, the packaging for the coffee product states that a single package will make “Up to 210 6 oz Cups.” According to package instructions, the plaintiffs assert that a single serving consists of one tablespoon of ground coffee and one serving of water. To make the advertised 210 servings, the plaintiffs allege that the package would need to contain 210 tablespoons of ground coffee, not the 137 tablespoons contained in the purchased package. An example of the alleged claim appear on the packaging here:
When compared to the advertised cups of coffee available to be made with this product, the plaintiffs allege that the product is underfilled by over 34%. Despite one of the named defendants residing in Illinois, and the complaint being filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the complaint alleges that the packaging constitutes false advertising pursuant to several California and New York unfair or deceptive acts or practices statutes, including the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, and False Advertising Law.
Takeaway: Most slack fill cases involve allegations that a product contains too much empty space commensurate with the overall package size. In this case, however, the plaintiffs allege that the package is underfilled based on the claims of contained on the package itself. Advertisers that make claims about number of servings per package should ensure that such claims match with the instructions and nutrition facts label.