The makers of Nutella have proposed a settlement of $3 million (US) for claims that they mislead consumers with regard to the “healthiness” of the product. Setting aside my biases as the child of immigrants who grew up with Nutella as a reasonably regular part of my breakfast (although, heaven forbid – I had to walk or bike to school and participate in sports), firms must take note of this suit and settlement. The Nutella case comes on the heels of $45 million settlement in the Dannon Activia suit in 2010 (“helps to naturally regulate your slow intestinal tract”) – a much more significant figure.
The cost of defending a multidistrict class action such as this would quickly exceed the proposed settlement of $3 million, and settling avoids the uncertainties of a jury. The plaintiff’s lawyers will likely walk away with at least $1 million of that settlement, for about a years work. That is enough incentive to keep these suits coming, and food companies need to consider their claims and advertising campaigns carefully, as the FDA and FTC may no longer be the most expensive sheriffs in town.