An exhibit from the civil complaint filed by Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp and five other California DAs.

published on January 29, 2019 - 10:27 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, along with five other California DAs, announced a settlement regarding deceptive packaging by chocolate companies.

The civil complaint alleged that chocolate companies Ghirardelli and Russell Stover packaged some of their chocolate products in oversized containers, giving consumers the impression that they were purchasing more product that they actually received. This is referred to as “nonfunctional slack fill” in the complaint.

The complaint also alleged that Ghirardelli stated one of its chocolate products contained more cocoa than it actually did.

As part of the settlement, Lindt & Sprüngli –the parent company of those two chocolatiers –said it would improve its packaging practices and pay $750,000 in costs and penalties.

Along with Fresno County, the DAs in Yolo, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta and Santa Cruz also participated in the lawsuit, which was filed in Yolo County court.

“Enforcing product packaging requirements is key to ensuring that consumers receive the full value of their purchases,” said Fresno County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerry Stanley. “Together with other California counties, we will continue to monitor businesses for proper compliance and prosecute those that violate our consumer protection laws.”

This isn’t the first time California DAs have gone after a chocolate company for deceptive packaging. Yolo, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties went after Pennsylvania-based R.M. Palmer Co. in 2015 for selling a “Too Tall Bunny” made of chocolate with ears that poked out of the top of the box, reported the Sacramento Business Journal.

In fact, the bunny sat on a cardboard platform that increased its height.

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