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Lawsuit filed against Beyond Meat, CEO Ethan Brown

Don Lee Farms beyond meat no_synth.jpg
Don Lee Farms alleges false advertising and unfair competition.

A new federal lawsuit was filed June 2 against Beyond Meat and its CEO Ethan Brown alleging false advertising and unfair competition. The suit, filed in the Central District of California, claims that Beyond Meat overstates the protein value of its products by up to 30% and has falsely represented that its products are free from “synthetic” ingredients.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Don Lee Farms, a leading plant-based and meat protein manufacturer for national food brands and previously the exclusive supplier of the Beyond Burger and Beyond Meat products.

The suit alleges that Beyond Meat’s false claims “are central to Beyond’s pitch to customers, business partners, retailers, and investors.” The complaint quotes Ethan Brown as stating that Beyond Meat’s “commitment to all natural” is at the very “core of [their] company,” but goes on to allege that “Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burgers contain ‘methylcellulose’” – an ingredient that the scientific literature recognizes “does not occur naturally and is synthetically produced.”

The complaint also attaches testing results “conducted by an internationally accredited laboratory that followed rigorous testing methods.” According to the complaint, this testing shows that Beyond Meat has inflated its protein claims by upwards of 30% and has “caused misbranded goods to be sold throughout the supply chain.”

Additionally, in a separate lawsuit, Beyond Meat and Beyond Meat’s senior management team are being sued for breach of contract and fraud. The fraud claim contains allegations that they deliberately altered and excluded important information from a food safety consultant’s report before it was sent to Don Lee Farms. Trial in that case is set for September 26th, 2022 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

A Beyond Meat spokesperson told Feedstuffs that the allegations in the filing lack merit, adding, “we are prepared to vigorously fight this in court.”

In April, Vegadelphia Foods, a subsidiary of the Sonate Corporation, filed a lawsuit in Florida District court alleging it had patented the slogan “Where Great Taste is Plant-Based” in 2015, four years before Dunkin’ and Beyond Meat debuted a similar slogan, “Plant-Based, Great Taste,” in 2019.

Vegadelphia claims it copyrighted the tagline with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2015.

Vegadelphia is seeking damages and a share of Dunkin' and Beyond's profits as well as requesting the companies be blocked from using the slogan.

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