A California resident has filed a putative nationwide class action in federal court against Ole Mexican Foods, Inc., alleging that its Xtreme Wellness® whole-wheat tortillas contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, “banned in many parts of the world due to its artificial trans fat content,” thus belying the health and wellness representations the company uses on product labels. Guttmann v. Ole Mexican Foods, Inc., No. 14-4845 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., filed October 31, 2014).
The plaintiff alleges that artificial trans fat causes cardiovascular disease; Type-2 diabetes; breast, prostate and colorectal cancer; Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline; and damage to vital organs. He claims that he purchased one package each month for two years at a higher price than comparable products relying on package labeling stating “Healthy Life Style,” “Better Choice for Your Health,” “Whole Wheat,” and “High Source of Fiber and Protein.” According to the complaint, because the product contains trans fat, small amounts of whole wheat along with highly refined bleached flour, and less fiber than required for a “high” claim, it is deceptively promoted. The labels also allegedly state “Trans Fat Free” and include a prominent heart image in violation of federal labeling laws, the plaintiff claims.
Alleging violations of the False Advertising Law, Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the unlawful, fraudulent and unfair prongs of the California Unfair Competition Law as well as breach of express warranty, the plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $5 million, disgorgement, punitive damages, injunctive relief, a corrective advertising campaign, interest, attorney’s fees, and costs.