'TGI Fridays Mozzarella Sticks' Maker Sued After Claim Snack Does Not Contain Mozzarella Cheese

TGI Fridays ‘Mozzarella Sticks’
TGI Fridays ‘Mozzarella Sticks’

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois - Eastern Division

A lawsuit against a snack maker is sticking around after being filed last year.

Late last month, Chicago federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against Inventure Foods could move forward after a woman claimed the company "misbranded" its "TGI Fridays Mozzarella Snack Sticks," which do not include mozzarella cheese.

"Despite its label, the Product does not contain mozzarella cheese; rather, it contains cheddar cheese," the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, reads, according to Today.

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Amy Joseph first filed the suit in February 2021 against both Inventure Foods Inc. and TGI Fridays Inc. over the snack food that she argues is misleading due to both its title and images of mozzarella sticks on the front of the packaging.

In the suit, she claims the companies violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as "the respective state-law claims for consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices in all fifty states and the District of Columbia on behalf of herself and the nationwide class," Today reported.

The woman, who purchased a six-pack of the grocery store snack on Amazon in January 2021, claims she believed it contained mozzarella cheese "given the prominence of the words 'MOZZARELLA STICKS' on the Product's front label, and her reasonable understanding that mozzarella sticks, by definition, contain mozzarella cheese."

The judge ruled that the suit could move forward against Inventure on Nov. 28, but not against TGI Fridays, as the restaurant chain licensed its logo but did not make the snack, per Today. Inventure parent company Utz did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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U.S. District Judge Robert Dow said Joseph's allegations were "wholly conclusory and insufficient to render (TGI Fridays) liable," per Top Class Actions.

"We are pleased with the judge's ruling," Thomas A. Zimmerman, Jr., Joseph's lead lawyer, told Today. "The judge agreed with us that the claims in the lawsuit have merit, the case should not be dismissed, and the case may proceed against Inventure Foods as a nationwide class action lawsuit. We intend to proceed against Inventure Foods on behalf of the nationwide class of purchasers of TGI Fridays mozzarella sticks."

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This is not the first time someone has sued a snack maker over the cheese it used.

Back in 2021, a Wisconsin woman sued Kraft Heinz and claimed it was deceiving customers by including the "real" dairy seal on its products, according to Food & Wine. Specifically, she pointed to Bagel Bites and claimed the snack, named "Mini Bagels with Mozzarella Cheese and Tomato Sauce," was "deceptive because mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, as these terms are understood by consumers and regulations, are not present in the Product or are present in an amount less than expected."

Kraft Heinz denied the allegations, writing that the food was "made with delicious, high-quality ingredients that our fans know and love."

The class action lawsuit has since been dismissed by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley, who claimed the suit did not prove that the Bagel Bites labeling did not meet federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act standards.