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Judge Stays Chocolate Class Action

SAN JOSE (CN) - A federal judge stayed a class action accusing Mars of misbranding candy, pending the resolution of a similar case at the 9th Circuit.

Lead plaintiff Phyllis Gustavson claimed Mars deceptively packaged and labeled five of its candies: M&Ms, Twix, dark chocolate Dove, milk chocolate Dove and Snickers.

She claimed the labels made misleading claims about calorie contents and nutrient-contents of cocoa flavanols, and that Mars failed to identify "polyglycerol polyricinocleic acid" by its common name.

She alleged unfair competition, false advertising and consumer law violations.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on Wednesday dismissed the claims regarding flavanols and polyglycerol polyricinocleic acid.

Also Wednesday, Koh granted Mars's request to stay the action pending the 9th Circuit ruling in Jones v. ConAgra Foods, which claims that ConAgra mislabeled and misbranded its canned tomatoes, cooking spray and hot cocoa.

"The Ninth Circuit's decision is likely to provide substantial guidance, if not new law, that will materially impact the Court's decision in the instant case," Koh wrote.

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