Hershey’s faces $5 million lawsuit over ‘misleading’ packaging of Reese’s products

The chocolate manufacturer is accused of false and deceptive advertising

Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins

A woman in Florida has filed a class action lawsuit against Hershey’s over the “misleading” packaging of several Reese’s products.

What is the lawsuit about?

Filed by Cynthia Kelly of Tampa Bay in Florida’s Middle District Court, the $5 million lawsuit against Hershey’s claims that Kelly and other consumers bought the products based on “false and deceptive advertising”. Kelly specifically alleges that a number of Halloween-themed Reese’s products were supposed to have “explicit carved out artistic designs” based on their packaging, but the actual products inside had no such designs.

According to the lawsuit, Reese’s “Pumpkin” and “Ghost” candies had packaging that featured designs on the candy. On the packaging, the Pumpkin candies were presented with a jack o’lantern design, while the Ghost candies had an eyes and mouth design. However, the actual candies inside the packaging did not have any of those designs, leading the complainants to believe that they have been “tricked and misled” by the packaging.

“Hershey’s labels for the Products are materially misleading and numerous consumers have been tricked and misled by the pictures on the Products’ packaging,” reads a portion of the lawsuit, which alleges that Hershey’s violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Hershey's "Deceptive" Reese's Halloween Pumpkins Without the Jack O'Lantern Design
Hershey’s “Deceptive” Reese’s Halloween Pumpkins Without the Jack O’Lantern Design | Photo Credit: Florida Middle District Court

What Reese’s products are involved in the lawsuit?

The lawsuit, which includes links to several YouTube videos showing consumers complaining about the packaging, claims that the following Reese’s products have misleading packaging:

  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins
  • Reese’s White Pumpkins
  • Reese’s Pieces Pumpkins
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Ghost
  • Reese’s White Ghost
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Bats
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter footballs
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Shapes Assortment Snowmen, Stockings, Bells

The lawsuit also points out that previous packaging for the abovementioned products did not include the artistic details So Kelly claims she “would not have purchased the Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins product if she knew that it did not have the detailed carvings of the mouth and/or eyes pictured on the product label.”

Other notable lawsuits against Hershey’s

In addition to the recently filed lawsuit discussed above, Hershey’s has faced other lawsuits in recent years, raising concerns about its products and marketing practices. Here are some of the most notable cases:

Heavy Metals in Dark Chocolate

The issue: A Long Island man filed a lawsuit against Hershey’s for $5 million, claiming that the company’s dark chocolate bars, including Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa, and Lily’s Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa all contain harmful levels of lead and cadmium. The lawsuit alleged that Hershey’s failed to disclose these levels on the packaging.

Status: The case was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice in February 2023.

Child Labor on Cocoa Farms

The issue: Several lawsuits were filed against Hershey’s alleging that the company used child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa. Hershey’s denied the allegations and emphasized its commitment to ethical sourcing practices.

Status: The lawsuits were settled out of court in 2020. Hershey’s agreed to increase its monitoring of cocoa farms and support programs to combat child labor.

Cocoa Price Fixing

The issue: Hershey’s, along with other chocolate companies, was accused of conspiring to fix the price of cocoa beans. The companies allegedly paid artificially high prices to cocoa farmers in West Africa, suppressing competition and harming farmers.

Status: The companies settled with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012, paying a combined $300 million in fines.

Source: People
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