A Bit of Math With Your Junior Mints Solves Packaging Problem

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By Julie Steinberg

A proposed “slack-fill” class suit over Junior Mints met with a less-than-refreshing end for the plaintiffs.

The allegedly oversized packaging wouldn’t deceive consumers about the amount inside, a federal judge in New York said.

Biola Daniel and two others alleged manufacturer Tootsie Roll Industries LLC markets various-sized Junior Mint boxes that contain at least a third empty space.

Just do the math, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said: The boxes provide more than adequate information for consumers to figure out how much candy they’re getting.

Suits challenging packaging are on the rise. Federal regulations permit extra space that serves a purpose, like protecting fragile food, but doesn’t allow non-functional slack-fill.

Here, the candy’s weight is prominently displayed on the front of each box, the court said.

And consumers can calculate the number of candies by multiplying the serving size by the number of servings in the box, information displayed on the back of every box, it said.

The court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that only an “unusually diligent consumer” could derive the product count this way, saying it “declines to enshrine into the law an embarrassing level of mathematical illiteracy.”

Consumers have also come to expect a certain amount of slack-fill in food packaging, the court said.

Lee Litigation Group LLC represented the plaintiffs.

Covington & Burling LLP represented Tootsie Roll Industries LLC.

The case is Daniel v. Tootsie Roll Indus., LLC, 2018 BL 274166, S.D.N.Y., 17-7541, 8/1/18.

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