Fat-Free Deli Meat Class Action Lawsuit
By Sarah Pierce
Are your Oscar Mayer and Natural Choice deli meats really 95% to 98% fat-free? Not even close, says a federal class action lawsuit against Kraft Foods and Hormel Foods.
According to the deli meat class action lawsuit, titled Kuenzig v. Kraft Foods, Inc., Kraft Foods and Hormel Foods use “a clever psychological technique to trick customers” into believing their deli meat products are as fat-free as they claim to be.
Labels on Kraft Food’s Oscar Mayer deli meats and Hormel Food’s Natural Choice-brand products state the products range from 95 to 98 percent fat-free. However, the class action lawsuit alleges that in some instances the meats actually contain more than 10 times the amount of fat claimed on the product labels. This deception is achieved by placing the percentage-fat-free claims immediately adjacent to the calories per serving using the same size and color of font, which suggests to consumers that the two statements modify each other.
For example, Oscar Mayer Honey Ham purports to be 98% fat-free with 50 calories per serving.
“By juxtaposing the percentage-fat-free claim directly beside, and often linked by a dot and in the same font as the calories statement, Kraft is strongly suggesting to shoppers that 98% of those 50 calories are fat free and that only one or two calories, at most, come from fat. But that Kraft Product, instead of containing only two percent fat as claimed, actually contains twenty-two percent fat by calories,” the fat-free deli meat class action lawsuit states.
An even worse example the class action lawsuit gives is Oscar Mayer’s White Turkey deli meat, which claims to be 95% fat-free directly adjacent to the claim “30 calories per serving.”
“How many of those 30 calories come from fat? Kraft has consumers believe that only five percent of those 30 calories are fat…. But in truth, 15 of those calories come from fat. Thus, Kraft’s Product is not five percent fat but calories, but is actually fifty percent fat. Ten times the stated amount of fat,” the Kraft Foods class action lawsuit states. (Emphasis added in lawsuit documents.)
Hormel Foods is accused of using the same “psychological trick” in its labels of its Natural Choice brand deli meats. These “crafty” labels, the lawsuit says, have tricked everyone who Plaintiff Brad Kuenzig’s counsel has spoken to about.
“Without exception, people who have earned medical degrees, PhDs, JDs, master’s degrees, and people with decades of real-world experience, including financiers, developers and executives, all have been deceived by [the defendants’] labels,” states the class action lawsuit.
The Kraft and Hormel Foods class action lawsuit is brought on behalf of anyone who purchased in the United States the deli-meat-style Oscar Mayer or Natural Choice products marketed and distributed by Kraft and Hormel, labeled with Percentage-Fat-Free claims between April 2006 and the present. In addition to damages, the lawsuit is seeking an injunction requiring the defendants to remove their percentage fat-free-claims from their products and engage in a corrective advertising campaign.
A copy of the Kraft Foods & Hormel Foods Oscar Mayer & Natural Choice Deli Meat Class Action Lawsuit can be read here.
Updated May 12th, 2011
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