As the saying goes, “McDonald’s has 99 problems, and mozzarella sticks that don’t contain cheese make up at least two of them.*” After customers raked the chain over the coals for selling breaded shells filled with fried air instead of mozzarella, another customer in California has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s, claiming its version of mozzarella is not, by definition, actual cheese.
A customer filed a lawsuit in California federal court last week, reports Law360, accusing McDonald’s of selling mozzarella sticks that don’t contain real cheese, but instead are made up of “something else.”
The plaintiff said the Golden Arches markets the item as being made with “pure mozzarella,” “real mozzarella” and “100 percent real cheese,” but that’s not the real story, the complaint claims.
“Rather than solely containing cheese, the sticks contain an admixture of various substances,” the lawsuit said. “In particular, McDonald’s has used starch as a cheap substitute and filler.”
He said he bought an order of the item in question at a California location on Dec. 24. A core sample** of one of the sticks showed it contained 3.76% starch by weight, the complaint says, but federal standards prohibit the ingredient in products labeled as “mozzarella cheese.”
Federal regulations spell out exactly what mozzarella cheese should be composed of, the complaint states, and filler is not one of them. Thus, the sticks have been rendered mislabeled and adulterated, the lawsuit claims.
“The sticks are filled with a substance that is composed (in part) of starch, in violation of the federal standards of identity for ‘mozzarella’ cheese, and contrary to reasonable consumers’ expectations regarding the meaning of the term ‘mozzarella,’” the complaint said.
Why would McDonald’s present alleged filler to us cheese-loving folk? Money, the customer says, claiming that the chain is trying to cut costs by “limiting its reliance on actual dairy products necessary to make mozzarella, contrary to what the law requires for products labeled as ‘mozzarella.’”
The customer calls McDonald’s ads and packaging of the mozzarella sticks misleading, deceptive, unfair and fraudulent, and is seeking claims under California’s unfair competition, false advertising and consumer protection laws.
He’s also seeking a class action representing other Californians who may have purchased the item, along with a nationwide class. The suit wants restitutionary and nonrestitutionary disgorgement, an award for attorneys’ fees and a cease-and-desist order prohibiting McDonald’s from continuing its allegedly illegal practices.
McDonald’s denied the allegations on Monday.
“Our mozzarella cheese sticks are made with 100 percent low moisture part skim mozzarella cheese,” a spokesman told Law360. “We intend to defend ourselves vigorously against these allegations.”
*We don’t know McDonald’s actual problem count, but felt the lyric quote was still justified in this case.
**Does this guy have a cheese lab in his house?! If so, cool.
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