Lead plaintiffs Steven Prescott and Linda Cheslow filed a class action against Nestle USA in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, saying the Swiss multinational food conglomerate falsely marketed white chocolate chips as real white chocolate when it’s actually fake white chocolate made with hydrogenated oils.
The class action was filed Thursday but withheld from the public by the court until Friday.
“Nestle, a company known for its chocolate, sells fake white chocolate baking chips and tries t0 market them as white chocolate,” the plaintiffs say in their complaint.
Plaintiffs said they relied on advertising of the white chocolate chips as “premiere chocolate” when purchasing the product for their baking projects. Instead, the chocolate – being fake – did not melt the way real chocolate does and caused their projects to fail, the plaintiffs say.
The plaintiffs claim many other bakers had the same problem, judging by complaints on the company website. They say Nestle disguises the true nature of its product in a quest for profit.
“Nestle’s profits are attributable, in part, to deceptive labeling and advertising of the product as containing white chocolate,” the plaintiffs say in the complaint.
They also say plaintiffs say Nestle knows its packaging is misleading but continues the practice anyway.
“Nestle is aware that reasonable consumers are misled into believing the product contains white chocolate when it actually contains fake white chocolate but has thus far refused to make any labeling and advertising changes to dispel the consumer deception,” the plaintiffs say in the complaint.
They seek an order barring Nestle from labeling and advertising the product as white chocolate and restitution on claims of unfair competition, false advertising and violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act. They are represented by Ryan Clarkson and others at Clarkson Law Firm in Los Angeles.
Nestle did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
White chocolate is not technically chocolate because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids. Instead, it’s considered a “chocolate confection” typically made from a blend of cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, milkfat and lecithin – the fatty emulsifier that holds the whole thing together.