Judge Boots McDonald’s Class Action on Ingredients of Fries

     CHICAGO (CN) – A federal judge denied certification in a class-action that claims McDonald’s deceived the public about allergens in its potato products. U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo called the proposed class “too broad” and “unmanageable.”

     The putative class claimed that McDonald’s failed to properly list allergen information for its french fries and hash browns until February 2006, when it adjusted the nutritional facts to reflect that the products were partially fried by the supplier in an oil containing small amounts of wheat bran and casein. McDonald’s had previously stated that the products were gluten- and dairy-free.
     Judge Bucklo wrote that the proposed class was “over-inclusive:” anyone who purchased the fried potatoes from McDonald’s between Feb. 27, 2002 and Feb. 7, 2006, and who had been diagnosed with “celiac disease, galactosemia, autism and/or wheat, gluten or dairy allergies,” regardless of whether they bought the products in the belief that they were allergen-free.
     Bucklo wrote that there appears to be no physical harm caused by the consumption of these products among the named plaintiffs, and that if there is such evidence, delving into such proof would be far too time-consuming for such nominally priced items.
     Bucklo also ruled that the state laws involving unjust enrichment, consumer protection violations and breach of express warranty vary too much to hold over a national group and that the suit “fail[s] to provide any choice of law analysis.”

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