By Iris Salem

RIVERSIDE ( — McDonald’s Corp. is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit over allegations the fast-food chain falsely advertised its mozzarella sticks as being made with “100% real cheese.”

The lawsuit filed in a federal court in California late last month alleges McDonald’s violated the state’s unfair competition law and false advertising law, among others.

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The complaint points to the product’s packaging in several states which the complaint alleges indicated the product is “made with real mozzarella.”

The complaint alleges that Chris Howe of Riverside County, the suit’s lead plaintiff, would not have purchased the sticks from a Rancho Mirage location in December “if he had known they were misbranded and adulterated.”

The 32-page complaint goes on to allege that “the sticks are filled with a substance that is composed (in part) of starch.”

The suit claims that by doing so the fast-food chain was able to cut the costs of production “by limiting its reliance on actual dairy products necessary to make mozzarella, contrary to what the law requires for products labeled as ‘mozzarella.’ ”

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“Inserting filler in its sticks allows McDonald’s to save money and increase its profits,” the complaint alleges. “The inclusion of starch in a product purporting to be ‘mozzarella’ therefore constitutes a violation of federal food labeling law.”

McDonald’s, according to the suit, began selling the product, which costs about $1.29 for three sticks, last summer in Wisconsin and then nationwide, including in California.

The complaint seeks to have the court certify the class and other relief.

In a statement, McDonald’s denied the allegations, according to

“Our mozzarella cheese sticks are made with 100 percent low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese,” a spokesperson for the fast-food chain reportedly said. “We intend to defend ourselves vigorously against these allegations.”

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CBS Los Angeles left a message for one of Howe’s attorneys, who at the time of publication had not yet responded to a request for comment.