Plaintiffs claim packaging misleads consumers into canola conspiracy
This February, two consumers brought a class action against Ken’s Foods Inc. in the Central District of California over packaging claims regarding the use of olive oil in some of its salad dressings.
Erikka Skinner and Anne Kenney claim to have purchased bottles of three of Ken’s Foods’ salad dressings – Greek with Feta Cheese, Black Olives, and Imported Olive Oil; Olive Oil & Vinegar; and Italian with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The purchases were motivated partly because the products boasted “olive oil” prominently on the packaging – a misrepresentation, the women allege.
According to the plaintiffs, soybean and canola oil made up more than 90 percent of the dressings in question (the plaintiffs do not note in their complaint where this information comes from).
The plaintiffs also took the company to task for allegedly claiming that the olive oil used in the salad dressing was “extra virgin” olive oil, which is priced higher than standard olive oil because of its appealing taste and reported health benefits.
This dust-up is a cautionary tale about the need to harmonize marketing messages across product packaging – and to ensure that ingredients are given appropriate real estate that matches their relative importance to the whole product.
Ultimately, the plaintiffs accused Ken’s of violating the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, the California False Advertising Law and the California Unfair Competition Law. But for reasons not made clear in the docket, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit just four days later.