Joseph Demmler of Wellesley claims he never would have purchased a bottle of Weber Real Molasses BBQ sauce - or paid as much as he did - if he'd known it was brown because of caramel coloring, so naturally he's filed a federal lawsuit.
Demmler, who buys barbecue sauce even in the winter, is seeking to become lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit for the estimated thousands of other Massachusetts residents allegedly similarly deceived by the unnatural brownness of ACH Food Companies' line, which also includes Original BBQ Sauce, Buzz’N Honey BBQ Sauce, Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce and Kick’N Spicy BBQ Sauce. Demmler is represented by lawyers in four different states to press his Massachusetts-specific claim.
All have "All Natural" on their labels, but under FDA regulations, any addition of a coloring material, no matter how natural it may be by itself, renders a product not "natural," the suit alleges.
In his complaint, Demmler explains the reasoning behind his suit:
Plaintiff purchased the Products in December 2014 based on Defendant's representations that the Product was "All Natural," including Real Molasses BBQ Sauce. Plaintiff purchased the Products at a Stop & Shop in Framingham, Massachusetts.
The label on the Products Plaintiff purchased contained the representations that the Products are "All Natural." Plaintiff believed Defendant's representations that the Products are "All Natural" to mean that the Products did not contain any ingredients or additives that would render the Product "unnatural." The "All Natural" claims were material to Plaintiff in making his purchase decision.
Plaintiff was willing to pay more for the Products because of Defendant's representations that the Products were "All Natural." Plaintiff would not have paid as much as he did for the Products, or would have purchased alternative products, if Defendant did not claim the Products were "All Natural."
Demmler is seeking repayment for all the bottles of sauce he and other Massachusetts consumers have bought since 2011, damages and, of course, reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs.