A New Jersey resident has filed a putative nationwide class action against the Campbell Soup Co. and American Heart Association (AHA) claiming that the “Heart-Check Mark” which AHA allows Campbell to place on more than 30 varieties of its canned soups in exchange for a fee misleads consumers into believing that these products meet AHA’s heart-healthy nutritional guidelines when a single serving actually contains nearly three times the amount of sodium permitted under those guidelines. O’Shea v. Campbell Soup Co., No. 13-4887 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.N.J., filed August 13, 2013). According to the plaintiff, “Properly characterized, the real meaning of the AHA’s Heart-Check Mark certification is, ‘Unhealthy, but maybe not as bad for you as other products.’”
Also characterizing the certification program as a “scheme,” the plaintiff alleges, “By the AHA selling, and Campbell’s buying, the right to affix the AHA’s seal of approval to its products, they falsely represent to the public that AHA-certified products manufactured by Campbell’s possess some cardiovascular benefit not enjoyed by products that have not been certified by the AHA. In truth, however, the only difference between AHA-certified Campbell’s products and non-certified competing products is that Campbell’s has paid money to the AHA to license its logo.” The plaintiff contends that she and class members paid a premium price for the soup in reliance on the certification. Alleging violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, breach of express warranty and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, actual and treble damages, restitution and/or disgorgement, attorney’s fees, costs, and interest.