Snickers Protein Bars Overstate Protein Quality

Published by Law360 (April 6, 2018, 5:33 PM EDT)
By Rachel Graf
Editing by Marygrace Murphy.

Snickers Protein Bars Overstate Protein Quality, Suit Says

Law360 (April 6, 2018, 5:33 PM EDT) — Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC overstates the amount and quality of protein in its Snickers Protein Bars, says a proposed class action filed Thursday in Illinois state court.

Consumers Miguel Alejandro and Fausto Fernos said Mars makes its Snickers Protein Bars with collagen protein, which lacks many essential amino acids found in other forms of protein such as whey. But the company misrepresents the protein quality by either inflating or omitting the percentage of daily recommended protein each serving includes, which indicates quality, the suit said.

“Accordingly, defendant’s consumers pay an inflated price for the Snickers Protein Bars, which deliver less actual and quality protein than they reasonably expect to receive,” the complaint said.

Mars states on the front label of its Snickers Protein Bars that the snacks contain 18 grams of protein, and is therefore required by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to undergo a “more sophisticated form of protein testing” related to protein quality, according to the filing.

This testing method is called the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score, and is calculated with the amount of essential amino acids in a product, according to the complaint. The score can range from 0 to 1. Whey, casein and soy protein supplements have a score of 1, but the collagen protein found in Snickers Protein Bars has a score of 0, the suit said.

These scores are then reflected in the product’s percentage of daily recommended protein printed in its nutrition facts, the suit said. Two products with the same amount of protein in grams could have different percent daily values of protein if they are made with protein of different qualities.

Alejandro and Fernos alleged that Snickers Protein Bars misrepresent the protein quality by either overstating the percent daily value or failing to include it altogether.

“Because the PDCAAS is used to determine ‘protein quality,’ defendant intentionally excluded the PDCAAS for the Snickers Protein Bars,” the suit alleged.

When included with the nutrition facts, this percent daily value does not reflect an accurate PDCAAS, in part because Mars didn’t test for individual amino acids, and is therefore false, the complaint said.

The consumers are seeking to represent a class of Illinois residents who have purchased Snickers Protein Bars in the state during the past three years.

The suit alleges violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act and unjust enrichment.

A representative with Mars didn’t respond Friday to a request for comment. Counsel for the consumers declined to comment.

The consumers are represented by Ryan F. Stephan, James B. Zouras and Haley R. Jenkins of Stephan Zouras LLP and Brandon M. Wise and Paul A. Lesko of Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane.

Counsel information for Mars was not available Friday.

The case is Miguel Alejandro et al. v. Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC, case number 2018CH04439, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

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