Michael Kosta has filed a class action lawsuit against Del Monte Corporation, for selling misbranded food items. The suit seeks to represent all consumers in the United States who have purchased a Del Monte canned tomato product, a Del Monte FreshCut vegetable product, or a Del Monte Fruit Naturals product in the last four years.
The suit accuses Del Monte Corporation of deceptive advertising, unjust enrichment, and violating the Beverly-Song Act, the Magnuson-Moss Act, and both the federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act as well as California’s equivalent Sherman Law which dictate misbranded items cannot be legally sold.
For the past four years, Michael Kosta of Santa Rosa, California has purchased Del Monte diced tomatoes, Del Monte FreshCut vegetable products, and Del Monte Fruit Naturals products for his personal use.
Del Monte, based in California, is one of the country’s largest producers of food products.
Del Monte's website and labels make unlawful claims about many of its products nutritional content including claims around:
The class action argues there are many problems with the claims Del Monte makes. For example, Del Monte’s canned tomatoes are represented as being "rich in" or "an excellent source of" lycopene. To make a claim a product is rich in a specific nutrient, it must contain at least 20% of its Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). Lycopene does not have an RDI so such a claim cannot be legally made.
Furthermore, Del Monte makes other unlawful health claims such as products being “rich in” or a “good source” of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and potassium when they fail to meet the 20% criteria for such claims.
In addition, Del Monte makes unlawful natural claims. The defendant’s entire line of “Fruit Naturals” contain numerous unnatural ingredients. Similarly, Del Monte labels its tomato sauces “100% Natural” or “all natural for over 100 years” despite the fact the products contain citric acid and/or calcium chloride, ingredients the FDA has informed other tomato companies precludes making a representation that the product is natural.
Had Kosta known the health claims on Del Monte’s products were unreliable, he would not have purchased such items or would not have paid a premium on those items. As such, the plaintiff is demanding a trial by jury to determine damages and restitution and to order the defendant immediately cease and desist from selling its food products in violation of law.