Filing its case in the Superior Court of California, Orange County, on July 3, Harcos Labs claimed breach of contract on the part of Silliker, Primar Essence, Power Brands Consulting and American Bottling.
Delaware-based Silkier analyses beverages for safety and spoilage propensities prior to filling, while Primal Essence and American Bottling were fillers and Power Brands was a beverage consultant.
In summer 2009, Harcos said it came up with the idea for a novelty beverage product called ‘Blood’ a red beverage packed in plastic pouches designed to look like those in blood transfusions.
Consequently, it hired Power Brands to develop a formula, source packaging and a contract manufacturer for the blood; however it later adopted the name ‘Zombie Blood’ for a green drink.
“A number of initial production runs of the ‘Blood’ [‘the world’s first drinkable synthetic blood substitute’, pictured below] and ‘Zombie Blood’ met with phenomenal success, they virtually flew of the shelves…and sold out quickly,” Harcos claimed.
However, in late August 2010, Harcos first heard of complaints that Zombie Blood tasted ‘like yogurt’ and, a month later, of pouches containing the product exploding and a foul smell.
Blunder with Glanbia ingredient?
Harcos traced these problems to Power Brands’ formulation, using Irish dairy ingredients giant Glanbia’s whey protein isolate, Provon A-190, specifying ‘cold fill’ rather than ‘hot fill’, where the protein caused microbial organisms to grow and spoil the product.
“This resulted in failure of the Blood and Zombie Blood products in the marketplace and damages to Harcos,” the company claimed, and said it was claiming damages as a result.
“These damages include out of pocket losses for developing and bringing the products to market, storing and destroying spoiled products and lost profits,” Harcos added.
Power Brands knew or should have known that Provon A-190 would cause microbial organism growth and lead to spoilage, Harcos said, and failed in its duty of care by specifying ‘hot fill’, and also for failing to conduct stability tests for the Blood product.
Unduly high plate counts
Glossing several alleged contract breaches on Power Brands part, Harcos also said that the firm failed to provide it with a usable formulation for a product called ‘Love Potion’ and another for ‘Mana’.
Silliker also failed in its duty of care by failing to heed aerobic plate count tests showing that Blood and Zombie Blood products had unduly high microbial levels to allow their release, Harcos claimed.
Primal Essence is also named as a defendant for similar reasons, while Harcos claims that American Bottling is in breach of contract by causing the release of defective products with aerobic plate counts “grossly out of the range acceptable for releasing the product to the market”.
Power Brands did not respond to BeverageDaily.com's request for comment.