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A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in California claiming that Uncle Ben’s Rice is deceptively packaged. Plaintiffs Eric Lankenau-Ray, a California resident and Carmen Vargas, a New York resident, filed their class action lawsuit stating that Mars has been “intentionally packaging its Uncle Ben’s rice products (Rice Product/s) in box containers that contain up to 50% empty space.”
Both plaintiffs claim that they purchased the boxes of rice at a higher price believing they were premium rice with more product inside, only to open the box and discover that there was up to 50% empty space, or “slack-fill”. According to the proposed class action lawsuit, the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) prohibits slack-fill of products.
The language of the FDCA says that products may be considered misbranded if the following condition is present: “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. Slack-fill is the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein.”
The lawsuit claims that there’s no functional reason to have the additional space within the packaging.
The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a nationwide Class of consumers who purchased Uncle Ben’s rice that included non-functional slack-fill, as well as a New York and California subclass of such consumers. Hundreds of thousands of members are expected to make up the Class.
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