A California resident has filed a putative statewide class action against H.J. Heinz Co. alleging that its Distilled White Vinegar is falsely advertised as “all natural” because it is made with genetically modified (GM) crops. Banafsheha v. H.J. Heinz Co., No. 14-2023 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., filed March 17, 2014).
Alleging that she paid more for the product due to the “all natural” labeling and would not have purchased the product had she known that it contains GM ingredients, the plaintiff claims, “Over 70% of U.S. corn crops are GM. Defendant sources its ingredients from U.S. commodity suppliers who supply GM crops. Large volume food manufacturers who wish to use non-GM ingre- dients must specifically source their crops, typically from europe, or undertake the additional step and expense of verifying the supply from non-GM growers through identity preservation programs. In most instances, manufacturers who purchase only non-GM crops for their products specifically label the products ‘non-GMO.’”
Alleging violations of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law, and breach of express warranty, the plaintiff seeks actual, punitive and statutory damages; injunctive relief; attorney’s fees; costs; and interest.