Tag Archives: lawsuits

Lawsuits being brought against food manufacturers for product misrepresentation

FoodFacts.com has long held the opinion that many of the products on our grocery store shelves are labeled in a misleading fashion, and don’t actually give consumers a clear representation of the products held in their boxes, cans and bags. Our community has always agreed with us. And it does appear that a controversy may be brewing over this practice.

Information has come to light that the same lawyers who brought millions of dollars in lawsuits against big tobacco companies (and won tremendous settlements form the likes of R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris) have been busy filing 25 new cases against food manufacturers, including ConAgra Foods, Heinz, General Mills and PepsiCo. These suits have been filed over the last four months and are claiming that these food manufacturers are mislabeling products and ingredients. Currently there are also lawsuits regarding Pam cooking spray, Swiss Miss cocoa products and some Hunt’s canned tomatoes.

While the food manufacturers are claiming that these are frivolous lawsuits and are strictly financially motivated, the lawyers are claiming that these cases could result in a cost of billions of dollars to the food companies.

For example, two mothers have brought a lawsuit against the makers of Nutella, claiming they were deceived into believing that the chocolate hazelnut spread was healthy for their kids. A similar suit was brought against PepsiCo three years ago accusing them of false advertising for Cap ‘n Crunch Crunch Berries cereal because it does not contain actual berries. The court felt that a “reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the product contained a berry that does not exist.” But is that really an analogous case? Of course, there are no such things as “crunch berries,” but Nutella certainly advertises itself as a healthy product that moms can feel good about serving their families. As a note, the product does not rate well on the FoodFacts.com website for a number of reasons.

In addition to the lawyers who filed suit against Big Tobacco, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has also filed suits against General Mills and McNeil Nutritionals over claims they make on Nature Valley and Splenda Essentials products. Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are faced with many suits regarding the 100% natural claims on many of their products, as well.

The focus seems to be – as we would have suspected – on products that make claims of “natural” or “Healthy.” These claims, often, seem to be subjective. And since these products aren’t subjected to the same federal standards as organics, the claims really do reflect the purposes of the food manufacturer and not the nutrition labels or the ingredient lists.

With obesity at epidemic levels in this country, and food additives being linked every day to increasing health problems, FoodFacts.com wonders whether or not this will go the way of the old tobacco lawsuits. Initially, the courts declared smoking a personal choice that consumers make, hopefully understanding the health risks they are inflicting on themselves. It wasn’t until the tobacco companies were sued on behalf of states on the basis of the hundreds of millions of dollars caring for sick smokers that the settlements were won by the lawyers.

It does appear that this is a new trend that is just beginning to emerge. It’s a trend that may cost offending food manufacturers a tremendous amount of money and cause them to actually pull products from the shelves, until they rebrand, rename or redevelop many of their products so that they accurately depict nutritional value and ingredients used.
FoodFacts.com thinks that this is a trend worth watching and we’ll be keeping you informed as we discover more about what companies are being sued and why. In the meantime, here are two links for you to read and discover more about what’s happening: http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20120819/NEWS0107/208190394/ and http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/business/lawyers-of-big-tobacco-lawsuits-take-aim-at-food-industry.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&smid=tw-share

Worst Fast Food Stories

Foodfacts.com believes that many consumers may turn to fast foods for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s a financial issue, an addiction to greasy goodness, or just a matter of convenience, millions of people still turn to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and other famous franchises for a quick meal. What we aim to point out is that these foods are made within a matter of seconds, and not always in the most sanitary way. Here are some gross stories that have been reported at fast-food restaurants!
thumbs_up_medium
The “Skin Sandwich”
In 2004, a man was enjoying a chicken sandwich from Arby’s when all of a sudden he pulled out about an inch long piece of skin, which appeared to be from a thumb. After impulsively getting sick, he filed a lawsuit for $50,000 dollars against the restaurant operator of the Arby’s. When health investigators approached the scene shortly thereafter, they interviewed the restaurant manager whom had a bandaged thumb. He claimed that he was slicing lettuce when he accidentally sliced his finger. Although he immediately cleaned the area and disposed of scraps around the slicer, he never threw away the pile of lettuce, which then went on the man’s sandwich. He thought he had taken the appropriate measures to sanitize the area.
chicken-nuggets
“Mousey Chicken”
A Baltimore Popeye’s had been dealing with a rodent infestation in their restaurant for a few weeks. This may not be surprising considering the Baltimore City Health Inspector had shut the restaurant down twice before for pest infestation and unsanitary conditions. What is surprising, the restaurant remained open. A man sat down to enjoy his chicken nuggets, when on his third nugget he also bit into a mouse that had been fried inside the meat. We’re hoping he still hasn’t gone back to this Popeye’s.
7699210-fresh-hot-corn-chowder-food-concept-image
“Nasty Clam Chowder”
A lawsuit had been settled in 2004 which had been filed by a woman who had found a condom in her McCormick & Schmick’s clam chowder. She claims she suffered severe emotional distress after consuming what appeared to be a rolled-up condom. She believes the kitchen staff had deliberately planted the item in her soup after they treated her rudely because she requested to have her soup reheated. The amount that was settled has not been revealed.
staple
“Jack in the Box Surprise”
As many already know, there are occasionally younger people working at fast-food restaurants just trying to earn some spending cash. They may not all be into fun and games, but a few at an Oregon Jack in the Box decided one day to have some fun at customer’s expense. To “amuse” themselves, they planted things such as hair, spit, phlegm, staples, acid and other foreign materials to people’s orders. Watch out where you eat!

“McChicken Head”mcchick
In 2000, a woman stopped on her way home from work to pick up a box of chicken wings for her family at McDonald’s. When she got home she proceeded to open the box and serve the wings when she picked up what appeared to be an unusual looking chicken wing. She then took a closer look and realized it had a beak and eyes. She jumped to the phone to call the restaurant manager, who calmly said “just bring it back and we’ll send it to corporate. We can then either refund you, or give you a new box.” Needless to say, she took the refund. She proclaimed after the incident she now only cooks her meals from home.
band-aid
“Bandaged Quarter Pounder”
In 1994, a man from Virginia Beach was sitting down to enjoy his quarter pounder when he noticed a texture unlike beef. He spit out the hamburger meat to find two used band-aids that had been cooked into his burger. It’s been said he may have had an allergy to the latex in the bandage, but whether or not that’s true, we’re not quite sure.
129_09
“Brain-eating Food”
Now, this may be a myth, but we’ll share it anyway. It is believed that around 2007 a 50 yr old man was eating at a fast-food restaurant that wasn’t exactly following the best sanitary codes. In fact, it was so unsanitary that the man had consumed tapeworm eggs that nearly killed him. We’re not sure of the restaurant, or the meal, but it’s reported that after he was unconscious for eight days after the meal, a doctor found tapeworms in the man’s brain. He could have died from a disease called cysticercosis.