Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Del Monte Foods, Inc. for Misleading Advertising

On Friday, Libby Gatling-Lee filed a class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California  against Del Monte Foods, Inc. alleging consumer protection violations for false and misleading advertising.

According to the complaint, Del Monte Foods is a California corporation with principal place of business in Walnut Creek, California and manufactures a variety of food products including College Inn broths and stocks. 

The complaint alleges that College Inn Chicken Broth, along with many of the defendant’s other broths and stocks, promptly display a label on the front of the package that states “NO MSG.” However, the complaint further alleges that the defendant’s products that are labeled with “NO MSG” do contain ingredients that contain MSG. Specifically, the complaint states the defendant adds “yeast extract” which is a substantial source of MSG. 

Additionally, the complaint purports that the defendant’s products state, in a very small font on the side of the product, “a small amount of glutamate occurs naturally in yeast extract.” The plaintiff argues that this qualifying statement does not make the defendant’s “NO MSG” claim truthful or not misleading. To support this argument, the complaint states the FDA has specifically recognized that it is misleading to label a product “NO MSG” or “NO MSG ADDED” when it has the particular, free-glutamate-containing ingredients that are in the defendant’s products. 

The named plaintiff states that, in the winter of 2021, she read and relied on the defendant’s “NO MSG” label when she purchased College Inn Chicken Broth. She further alleges that she tries to avoid eating foods that include MSG, she did not notice the qualifying statement on the packaging, and she would not have purchased the product at the price she paid if she had known that the products actually do contain free glutamates. The plaintiff argues that she and other similarly situated individuals were misled and face an imminent threat of harm because they will not be able to rely on the labels in the future, and thus, will not be able to purchase the products.   

The plaintiffs bring the present suit alleging violation of Consumer Protection Acts in over 40 states, violation of the New York General Business Law and breach of express warranty. The plaintiffs seek class certification, statutory, treble and punitive damages, restitution, disgorgement, pre- and post-judgment interest, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees and costs.  The plaintiffs are represented by Dovel & Luner, LLP and Broslavsky & Weinman, LLP