First it was cups of coffee, then it was boxes of pasta. Now, Junior Mints is facing a lawsuit for allegedly under-filling its boxes. Back in October, Biola Daniel of New York City filed a lawsuit against Tootsie Rolls Industries because she claimed a box of Junior Mints she bought at a Duane Reade in New York was approximately 40 percent air.
Now two more plaintiffs, including Abel Duran and Trekeela Perkins, have joined the case against Junior Mints in an amended class action complaint filed in January claiming that the candy maker is, "tricking consumers into believing that each box has more candy than it does… that it is more valuable than it really is."
While most packaged food has some amount of air — also known as functional slack-fill — to protect the product or as the result of settling during shipping or as necessary in the manufacturing process, the plaintiffs in this case claim that some of the amount of slack-fill space in the Junior Mints boxes is non-functional because it is more than other candy boxes of similar size and shape.
In the complaint that was amended and filed to the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York on Jan. 2, the plaintiffs point out that in comparison, a 5-ounce box of Milk Duds only has 23 percent slack-fill while a 3.5-ounce box of Junior Mints has up to 43 percent slack-fill.
"Each Product contains a standardized amount of candy that only fills a small portion of each box, such that each box is underfilled," the complaint reads. "The size of each Product box is disproportionately large in comparison to the quantity of candy within, falsely conveying to consumers that each box contains more candy than it does."
The new plaintiffs in the case claim to have had similar experiences as Daniel. Abel Duran of Queens County, New York claims to have bought a 4.13-ounce box of Junior Mints at an AMC Theater in Garden City, New York in December 2017 that contained more than one third slack-fill. Trekeela Perkins of Mississippi also claims to have bought several sizes of Junior Mints boxes that also contained more than one third slack-fill.
While there are no numerical requirements that specify what percentage of slack-fill qualifies as nonfunctional, per FDA regulations, "a container that does not allow the consumer to fully view its contents shall be considered to be filled as to be misleading if it contains nonfunctional slack-fill."
Tootsie Rolls Industries, which manufactures Junior Mints, denied the claims back in November saying, among other things, that the class action suit filed against them doesn't show that the empty space in their boxes is non-functional and that also a "reasonable consumer would be materially misled by the packaging, which accurately discloses the weight and number of candy pieces inside." The company have not yet responded to the amended complaint.
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