Court Dismisses Claims that Instant Noodles’ ‘No Added MSG’ Claim Misled Consumers

Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.

A federal court in New York has thrown out a proposed class action against the maker of Cup Noodles and other instant noodle products claiming that its use of the phrase “No Added MSG” deceived consumers. Henry v. Nissin Foods (U.S.A.) Co., Inc., No. 22-363 (E.D.N.Y., entered March 17, 2023).

The plaintiff filed suit against Nissin Foods (U.S.A.) Co. Inc., alleging that the labeling on its products—which include Cup Noodles, Top Ramen, Hot & Spicy and Chow Mein—mislead consumers because while they are labeled as having “No Added MSG,” certain ingredients contain free glutamates.

She asserted that a reasonable consumer would believe the products do not contain any free glutamates because of the presence of the “No Added MSG” label. The products also contain, in smaller lettering, a notice that the products contain small amounts of naturally occurring glutamates.

The plaintiff argued in part that the term “naturally occurring glutamates” may be interpreted as referring to “bound glutamates,” a benign form of glutamate, as opposed to “free glutamates,” and is misleading.

The court said the plaintiff provided no explanation as to why, however, noting there is no indication that one form of glutamate is artificial while the other is natural. The court also said there is no reason to believe that the term “naturally occurring” implies essential to production, which the plaintiff also argued.

“There is no essential form of the Products; ‘Cup Noodles’ do not exist nature,” the court said. “The Products only exist in the form in which [defendant] manufactures them. A reasonable consumer would know this and not read the ‘naturally occurring’ label to imply inherent or essential to production.”

The court ruled that the disclaimer, when read in conjunction with the “No Added MSG” label, clarifies any misconception created by the label and that a reasonable consumer would not be misled to believe that the products do not contain free glutamates, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims in their entirety.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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