Salted Green Beans Sued For “No Preservatives” Claim
On November 19, a proposed class of consumers sued Del Monte Foods Inc. in Illinois federal court over a “no preservatives” claim on its canned Farmhouse Cut Green Beans. The proposed class alleged that the salt added to the green beans causes the “no preservatives” claim to be false and misleading.
The complaint, filed by named plaintiff Jaymee Fleming, alleges that consumers are increasingly looking for foods produced without preservatives, and that Del Monte charges a premium for its green beans by claiming that they have no preservatives. Fleming further alleges that the green beans packaging advertises that they are “with natural sea salt,” noting that salt can be added for taste as well as preservative effect. Fleming argues that Del Monte uses the salt as a preservative because it prevents deterioration of the green beans, makes it harder for bacteria to survive in the can, prevents and slows discoloration, and helps the green beans maintain texture and flavor. Thus, Fleming argues that the claim “no preservatives” is misleading to consumers who do not want to consume any type of preservatives in their food.
Fleming alleges that by using the salt, Del Monte gains an advantage over other companies and is able to charge more for its products by claiming that they are made without preservatives. Fleming seeks to represent two classes of consumers who purchased green beans: one for buyers in Illinois and another for buyers in North Dakota, Rhode Island, Michigan, Virginia, Wyoming, and Delaware. Keller and Heckman will continue to monitor and report on any developments.