Do TGI Fridays Mozzarella Sticks Actually Have Mozzarella in Them?

A Chicago lawsuit claims the snack version does not.

TGI Fridays Mozzarella Stick Lawsuit
Photo: Allrecipes

When you see the name "mozzarella stick," you likely assume that there will be mozzarella cheese featured. That's what Amy Joseph says she thought when she ordered a bag of TGI Fridays Mozzarella Stick Snacks from Amazon in early 2021.

Imagine her surprise when the mozzarella sticks snack bags arrived and she learned there wasn't actually mozzarella inside of them, but instead Cheddar cheese. This encounter promoted Joseph to sue TGI Fridays and Inventure Foods, Inc. (the mozzarella stick distributor) for misbranding.

The class action suit, which was filed in Illinois, claims that TGI Fridays' product label is misleading because it "prominently states, 'Mozzarella Stick Snacks' and includes an image of the hot appetizer, mozzarella sticks" but doesn't contain actual mozzarella.

Joseph says that had she known the shelf-stable snack version of mozzarella sticks contained Cheddar instead of mozzarella, she would not have bought them. Thus, she sued the two companies for three things: a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, committing consumer fraud and deceptive practices in all 50 states and Washington D.C., and unjust enrichment — meaning the companies were monetarily enriched at Joseph's expense which she claims is unjust.

The lawsuit is seeking monetary relief for Joseph and "others [who] paid for the Product based on reasonable reliance that they contained mozzarella cheese," but the amount is not specified.

Joseph began the class action suit in February 2021, and on November 28, a Chicago judge ruled that her case could proceed against Inventure Foods, but not TGI Fridays. The court ruled that because TGI Fridays licenses its trademark to Inventure Foods, it is not "liable for the alleged improper acts of the product's manufacturer." So, TGI Fridays was dismissed from the case.

This isn't the first time a major company has been sued over misbranding. In fact, it's not even the first time in the past month.

Recently, Kraft Heinz was sued over the labeling on its Velveeta Shells & Cheese cup because the cup claims it takes 3 1/2 minutes to prepare, but a Florida lawsuit alleges it takes longer. Additionally, Barilla was sued in October because of its "misleading" label that claims it's "Italy's #1 Brand of Pasta" despite the fact that most of the pasta is manufactured in the U.S.

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