Starbucks fruit drinks not as fruity as claimed, suit says

A Starbucks line of fruity summer drinks aren’t as fruity as their names suggest, a New York City woman is alleging in a proposed class action lawsuit that asks, “Where’s the acai?”

“Despite their names, and unbeknownst to consumers, the Mango Dragonfruit and Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade Refreshers contain no mango, the Pineapple Passionfruit and Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade Refreshers contain no passionfruit, and the Strawberry Acai and Strawberry Acai Lemonade Refreshers contain no acai,” Joan Kominis said in the suit filed Friday in Manhattan federal court.

Queens resident Kominis doesn’t say in her suit how she determined the ingredients were missing. She claims the refresher drinks are all predominantly made with water, grape juice concentrate and sugar.

A spokesperson for Starbucks said the Seattle-based company hasn’t been served with the lawsuit and had no comment.

Kominis said she stumbled upon the alleged deception when she purchased the strawberry acai drink, only to discover it did not contain acai (ah-sah-EE), depriving her of the fruit’s known health benefits. The company’s website says the drink is “accented” by acai “notes.” 

According to the suit, the product names constitute an “implied promise” about their ingredients and Starbucks violated a New York law prohibiting deceptive practices and false advertising. Kominis accused Starbucks of unjust enrichment, saying it charged for drinks as if they contained the advertised ingredients.

A grande, or medium, Mango Dragonfruit Refresher costs $5.25 at a store in midtown Manhattan.

“Plaintiff and other consumers purchased the products and paid a premium price based upon their reliance on defendant’s naming of the products,” Kominis said. “Had Plaintiff and other consumers been aware that the products are missing one of the named fruits, they would not have purchased the products or would have paid significantly less for them.”

Robert Abiri, the Los Angeles-based lawyer who filed the suit, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Kominis’s complaint doesn’t specify potential damages but says the “amount in controversy” is more than $5 million.

Other chains have faced claims that their products’ ingredients are not as advertised.

Subway Restaurants has been fighting a suit by California consumers who claim that its tuna sandwich is adulterated with other fish species, animal products and other mysterious substances. Subway denies the claim and states on its website that it only uses wild-caught Skipjack tuna in its sandwiches.

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