A class action lawsuit claims that Ghirardelli Premium Baking Chips Classic White are not really made of white chocolate, and are instead made with imitation chocolate crafted from ingredients like hydrogenated and palm oils. The customers claim that they were misled by Ghirardelli’s reputation as a premium chocolate brand, and the fact that all of the other similar chips, including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolate, are made with chocolate. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with Scott Hardy, the President of Top Class Actions.


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

Farron Cousins:                  Well, with the holiday season upon us, lots of people head into the kitchen, they bake cookies, they bake cakes, they bake all kinds of things. And this is what those companies who sell things like marshmallows or chocolate chips or whatever it is live for. But unfortunately, according to a new class action lawsuit, one company is selling a form of white chocolate chips that may not be chocolate at all. Joining me now to talk about this is Scott Hardy with Top Class Actions and Scott as somebody who watches food network pretty much nonstop, white chocolate is technically not chocolate because it does not contain any of the cocoa solids, but white chocolate is in fact a thing.

But this lawsuit against Ghirardelli says, okay, we understand white chocolate’s not necessarily chocolate by definition, but you’re not even giving us white chocolate. You’re giving us a bunch of things that you concocted in a lab and you’re calling that white chocolate. This is, you know, pretty deceptive of a company that’s been around for a long time, you know, pretty well respected in the candy world and so tell us what’s going on now.

Scott Hardy:                          Yeah. Ghirardelli, I mean, you go to their, their factory, their store when you’re in San Francisco, they make delicious chocolates. I myself am a fan, but then you have this class action that was filed because as you said, white chocolate, yes, it’s not real chocolate. But what they’re doing here is they’re just adding flavors to their hydrogen, hydrogenated and palm oils, hydrogenated oil and palm oil and then coloring and selling this stuff as white chocolate chips. And that’s the issue. But the, the funny thing is, is that they were hit with a class action and settled it back in 2014. Back in 2014 it was a very, very, very similar class action settlement.

And so we’re trying to take a look at this and say, what, did Ghirardelli just forget? Were they acquired, so then the new acquisition made that they didn’t have to abide by the terms of the class action settlement from 2014? Did those terms expire and so Ghirardelli just went back to marketing it in the same way? I’m not quite certain yet. The team’s looking at both class actions to see exactly what’s happening. But it’s surprising that you have an established brand that’s trusted and loved like Ghirardelli, come back and get hit with a class action that they already settled five years ago.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, and again, this is a trusted company. You know, Ghirardelli is known for chocolate. That is what they do. And so if you’re out there baking, you want to have the best thing possible. So you do reach for these, you know, Ghirardelli white chocolate chips. You pay a little bit more for them, but you think you’re getting a better product and that, you know, is something we talk about all the time. You pay a little more because you think you’re getting something a little bit better. But as this lawsuit states, you’re not using any of the cocoa fats, which is what makes it actually white chocolate. Instead, you’re using the other oils that you’re just mixing together and claiming that this is white chocolate.

You’ve somehow managed in a lab to mimic the flavor of it to an extent. They’re also claiming it’s obviously quite inferior to real white chocolate, so they’ve got a good case because this one’s going to come down to science. You know, you’re going to be able to look at this, you’re going to be able to test this. They’re going to be able to find out what’s actually in there and again, knowing that they have, as you pointed out, done this in the past, their own history is working against them on this one.

Scott Hardy:                          It really is, I mean you got hit with it five years ago, oh, please just do the right thing. Maybe put the premium ingredients that we expect from Ghirardelli in your chocolate. Because if you’re looking at, in the grocery store and you’re making a yummy Christmas treat or Hanukkah treat or holiday treat for your family and you’re taking a look there and you see the Ghirardelli brand and you see the generic brand, the store brand, well of course you’re going to go for the Ghirardelli brand. But it’d be crazy if that store brand actually has the premium ingredients that you were expecting in that Ghirardelli chocolate. So I’m hoping that they go ahead and address the labeling or even better, just go for the premium stuff. Give us that premium Ghirardelli taste that we love when we go to Ghirardelli square in San Francisco and, and eat that chocolate.

Farron Cousins:                  Right, I mean, the consumers are already paying for the superior product, so all you’ve got to do is actually give us what we’re paying for and we’re going to be happy. But at the same time, obviously with this lawsuit, you need to go ahead and compensate us in some form for the inferior product that you duped us into buying. For more information about this particular issue, please follow the link in the description of this video. It’s going to take you over to Top Class Actions and while you’re there, make sure you sign up for their weekly newsletter. Scott Hardy with Top Class Actions, always a pleasure talking to you.

Scott Hardy:                          Great talking to you too, Farron. Thank 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