Lawsuit: 'Mozzarella Sticks' Snack Is Mozzarella-Free

Illinois woman sues over TGI Fridays-branded product
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2022 9:41 AM CST
Lawsuit: 'Mozzarella Sticks' Snack Is Mozzarella-Free
The snacks, unlike these real mozzarella sticks, were made with cheddar.   (Getty Images/Fudio)

A food product labeled "TGI Fridays Mozzarella Sticks Snacks" definitely contains sticks that can be snacked on, but the "TGI Fridays" and "Mozzarella" parts of the name were the focus of a court hearing this week. Federal judge Robert Dow ruled that a class action suit filed by a woman who called the name misleading because the sticks contain no mozzarella cheese could proceed, USA Today reports. But he also granted TGI Fridays' request to be removed from the lawsuit, saying the restaurant chain had only licensed its trademark to snack maker Inventure Foods, which wasn't enough to make it liable for alleged false or misleading advertising.

In the lawsuit filed early last year, Illinois resident Amy Joseph said she bought the bagged snack on Amazon, where the ingredients were not listed, and she was surprised to find out from the fine print that they contained cheddar, not mozzarella. She argued that it was "misbranding." Dow said it was plausible for Joseph to allege that a reasonable consumer would believe "a product labelled ‘Mozzarella Stick Snacks’ with an image of mozzarella sticks would bear some resemblance to mozzarella sticks, which presumably contain some mozzarella cheese," per Reuters. Inventure argued that no reasonable consumer would believe a "shelf-stable, crunchy snack product" would contain actual mozzarella.

Inventure's lawyers also questioned Joseph's motives for buying the product, calling her a "serial class action plaintiff" who has filed at least eight other suits over the last decade. Joseph's lawyer, Thomas Zimmerman Jr., said they are "pleased with the ruling" and "intend to proceed against Inventure Foods on behalf of the nationwide class of purchasers of TGI Fridays mozzarella sticks." The court directed attorneys to hold a "preliminary settlement discussion" on Dec. 5, per Reuters. (Read more snack foods stories.)

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