Legal Watch

Ferrara Candy files lawsuit over rice weevils found in Red Vines licorice

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

An exhibit from the lawsuit puports to show rice weevils in the Red Vines.
An exhibit from the lawsuit puports to show rice weevils in the Red Vines.
Ferrara Candy Company filed a lawsuit against American Licorice Company, claiming the company sold them Red Vines licorice invested with rice weevils.

Illinois-based Ferrara Candy, manufacturer of brands such as Lemonheads, Brach’s and Boston Baked Beans, filed the lawsuit in federal court on August 31. The company is seeking damages from the Indiana-based American Licorice Company due to the contamination and defective packaging, which Ferrara claims lead to the infestation.

What happened?

Ferrara was selling the Red Vines as part of its Kiddie Mix packet, which contains Lemonheads, Trolli and candy from other manufacturers.

“On information and belief, the Red Vines American sold and delivered to Ferrara were invested with rice weevils (Sitophilus oryzae), insects that feed on grains such as wheat which is an ingredient in Red Vines,”​ the lawsuit claims. “These insects rendered the Red Vines in the Kiddie Max bags containing them unfit for the purpose intended, unmerchantable, adulterated and unwholesome.”

Ferrara claims the packaging the Red Vines came in was defective in such a way that it allowed rice weevils to be attracted by its grain-based smell coming from the openings.

In an effort to mitigate damages from selling the infested candy, Ferrara claims it stopped production of the Kiddie Mix bags, quarantined its inventories of both the finished products containing Red Vines and unpacked red Vines and disposed of the most of the unused Red Vines. Distribution of the finished Kiddie Mix bags containing Red Vines was also halted.

‘Significant damages’

Ferrara said it “has and will continue to incur significant damages,”​ up to as a much as $1.8m, due to the infestation. 

Approximately 37,800 cases of Red Vines were delivered to Ferrara’s warehouse in Itasca, Illinois and distribution center in Bolingbrook, Illinois, in 2014, with an additional 5,400 cases coming in 2015, Ferrara claims.

American Licorice Company denied Ferrara’s demand for compensation in accordance with the terms of the lawsuit, the federal filing said. Ferrara asked the court to find against American for an amount to be proven at trial in excess of $75,000, in addition to legal fees.

Company response

American Licorice Company did not respond to a request for comment regarding this case. Ferrara Candy Company has declined to comment on this story. 

Martin B. Carroll, one of the attorneys representing Ferrara from Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, did not respond to a request for comment. 

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