A class action lawsuit claims Blue Diamond “wasabi” almonds actually contain a wasabi substitute – horseradish. Horseradish is not even closely related to the wasabi plant, alleges the plaintiff. “Real wasabi products are in high demand and are generally expensive,” alleges the Blue Diamond Almonds class action lawsuit. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with Scott Hardy from Top Class Actions.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, it seems like a lot of the problems that corporations, specifically corporations that manufacture food products, it seems like a lot of the problems that they encounter could be fixed by changing a simple word on a packaging. Or maybe changing the way they advertise their product, even if it is just slightly. We’ve talked about a lot of those on this program and today we have yet a, another one.

Joining me now to talk about this latest issue is Scott Hardy from topclassactions.com. Scott, today we’ve got blue, blue diamond almonds. They’ve got a wasabi almond that they market out there. Hey, we’ve got this wasabi product. People love wasabi. It’s one of the hot things right now, both figuratively and literally. Not actually wasabi is it?

Scott Hardy:                          No, it’s not wasabi and that was a little surprising to me. I mean we see these class actions all the time and you and I talk about how the supposed ingredients in these very rarely are not actually are the ingredients in there. And blue diamond got hit with this class action. And it turns out that wasabi is very easily cloned, at least taste wise with horseradish. And so this class action alleged that the blue diamond almonds are actually flavored with horseradish and not wasabi.

But of course, that’s not very sexy to go ahead and sell your blue diamond almonds with horseradish. That just doesn’t sound appealing. But when you say wasabi, people go, ah, cool. It’s green, it’s tasty. Let’s go ahead and, and buy that up. But instead of wasabi and soy sauce, this class action alleged that it should be referred to as flavored by horseradish and soy sauce. And I don’t see that one marketing very well. What about you?

Farron Cousins:                  No, and that’s, that’s exactly why these corporations do it. People see wasabi and they, they think a certain thing, they think, oh, this is a better product. Because a lot of people don’t necessarily understand that most of us, no matter how often we buy a wasabi product or no matter how often we go to the, the sushi house, we’ve, most of us have never actually had real wasabi.

People don’t know that and that, that to me, you know, it’s something I, I’m a person, I watch food network constantly. You know, I, I’ve known that, you know, Alton Brown with good eats, did a phenomenal job of explaining that a decade ago. That if you want real wasabi, you almost exclusively have to actually go to Japan. It is a root, much like a ginger root that is graded finally.

And that is wasabi. What we have over here and most of throughout the world is, wasabi paste. It’s not actual wasabi. It tastes a lot like it and most people don’t complain. The problem comes when you start to market your product as blue diamonds has here as being flavored with wasabi, when that’s not actually what it is. And people pay the premium, they pay the higher price because they think they’re getting this actual product, which they are not.

Scott Hardy:                          Right. And frankly, I was really surprised and shocked when I read this when it’s said that, you know, as you stated, most American sushi restaurants serve a mix of horseradish powder, mustard and green food, green food coloring. And so when you’re ordering wasabi from your local sushi restaurant, there’s a really good chance it’s just horseradish, mustard and green food coloring. That’s just sad. Come on man. I thought I was getting the real thing I like to go ahead and mix up with my soy sauce.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah, you know it, it tastes great though. I mean let’s, let’s be honest. I, I like the flavor of that. I’ve never had real wasabi. Maybe I am missing out on something there. But you know, if you’re going to have the imitation wasabi, all you have to do really is just change, change the wording. Say wasabi flavored blue diamond almonds. You know, something as simple as adding that wasabi flavored word. That word could have prevented problems for this company. And that’s kind of what we’ve seen in a lot of these instances.

You just add the word flavored and you can help yourself so much. But companies usually think, you know, maybe we won’t get popped on this. Maybe not enough people will sign up for the class action if there is one. Maybe we’ll, we’ll be okay if we just say wasabi instead of wasabi flavored. So I, I do, I like to see when these companies are held to account because all you have to do is be honest about what you’re actually selling to us.

Scott Hardy:                          Exactly. Just go ahead and be honest. Label the package as it’s supposed to be labeled and you won’t be hit with these class actions and have to, you know, churn out a couple of million dollars to pay your dedicated customers who love your product but just want to be told the truth.

Farron Cousins:                  Exactly. It doesn’t change the flavor of what people are getting. You’re just being a little more up front to them about what they’re actually getting. If anybody needs any more information about this particular issue, you can follow the link in the description of this video. Check out topclassactions.com and subscribe to their newsletter to stay up to date on all of the information that consumers need to know. Scott Hardy with topclassactions.com, I appreciate you talking with us today.

Scott Hardy:                          Thank you, Farron. Appreciate you.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced