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December 2, 2019

Hey Clif Bar, Where’s the White Chocolate?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:42 am

A California consumer sued the maker of Clif Bars for misleading practices alleging that their “White Chocolate Macadamia Nut” Clif Bars had no white chocolate.

Clif Bar

A quick scan of the ingredients label confirms that omission.


Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Rice Flour, Macadamia Nuts, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Soy Flour, Cocoa Butter‡, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Organic Cocoa Butter‡, Sea Salt, Soy Flour, Barley Malt Extract, Soy Lecithin, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant).

The consumer argued that the FDA has specific regulations of what constitutes white chocolate, and this product didn’t meet that standard.

The company asserted that the term “natural flavor” in tiny print on the front of the package, along with the ingredients statement should have put the reasonable consumer in a position to understand there was no white chocolate in this product.


Clif Bar natural flavor

The judge dismissed the lawsuit saying that although the consumer properly alleged there was a misrepresentation, it may not have been reasonable to have relied just on the big print.

Give me a break.

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  1. As a regular consumer of Cliff Bars, I knew and expected that chocolate would not be included in their chocolate flavored bars. It wouldn’t meet their healthy food profile.

    Comment by Skippy — December 2, 2019 @ 7:57 am
  2. As an irregular consumer of Clif Bars, I would have expected white chocolate to be present in a product that declares white chocolate so boldly. Finding out that I’d need to be a chemist to know for sure is a huge letdown.

    Comment by Shawn — December 2, 2019 @ 9:53 am
  3. I guess the package saying “oats and soybeans with a taste of macadamia nuts and a hint of white chocolate flavoring” wouldn’t have had the same impact as a big title of white chocolate macadamia nuts.

    They may have covered themselves legally with the fine print “natural flavors” notation, but I probably wouldn’t buy them “just because”. They lost a potential customer.

    Comment by bobl — December 2, 2019 @ 12:42 pm
  4. I’m confused as to why the ‘consumer’ thinks there isn’t any ‘white chocolate’ in the bar? Cocoa butter is listed twice in the ingredient list. ‘White chocolate’ is made with cocoa butter, sugar & milk solids. The only ‘missing’ ingredient is the ‘milk solids’, although milk is listed in the ‘allergen’ section.

    Comment by Gert — December 2, 2019 @ 4:57 pm
  5. When the label says “WHITE CHOCOLATE”, I shouldn’t even have to look at the ingredients list to see if it’s really there. I should be able to assume that it’s there. Anything less than that is misleading and dishonest.

    Comment by Bill — December 3, 2019 @ 2:41 pm
  6. @Bill, But you don’t think it’s ‘misleading’ to use the word chocolate in the term ‘white chocolate’ when there isn’t any chocolate in it?

    Comment by Gert — December 3, 2019 @ 4:32 pm
  7. This is as bad as the fruit juice drinks that list everything except an actual fruit as ingredients.

    fruit juice is not the same as “sugar and natural flavors”

    Comment by Wayne R — December 5, 2019 @ 10:42 pm
  8. @Gert “white chocolate” is a common term for a product. People know what it is even though it’s not actually chocolate.

    “Black forest cake” doesn’t have any forest in it.
    “Cinnamon Toast Crunch” cereal doesn’t have any toast in it.
    And “white chocolate” doesn’t have any chocolate in it.

    Sometimes a name is just a name but people have an expectation of what they will get when they buy it.

    Comment by Pierre — December 6, 2019 @ 8:45 am
  9. I agree with Pierre here. White chocolate is not even really chocolate in the first place so arguing that there’s no chocolate in them is ridiculous. However arguing that the ingredients that commonly go into white chocolate aren’t there isn’t ridiculous, but when you dissect the ingredient list it’s still arguable as to whether there are enough of them to pass, especially if they put the word “natural flavor” in there to qualify it. So I get why the case was thrown out. The only thing they should do is make that little phrase “natural flavor” bigger. And besides, Clif bars are really good!!

    Comment by Renée — December 8, 2019 @ 3:07 am
  10. “Regulations govern what may be marketed as ‘white chocolate’: In the United States, since 2004, white chocolate must be (by weight) at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% total milk solids, and 3.5% milk fat, and no more than 55% sugar or other sweeteners. Before this date, American firms were required to have temporary marketing permits to sell white chocolate.”

    Comment by Shawn — December 9, 2019 @ 9:05 am

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