SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) – The Southern California woman whose lawsuit was dismissed against Kraft Heinz Food Co., regarding false advertising of its ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ foods has filed a second amended complaint against the company.
Suzanne Alaei filed the lawsuit against Heinz on Jan. 19 alleging the company’s ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ advertisements violated California’s Unfair Competition Law and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act for its Heinz 57 sauce.
Alaei claimed she purchased a bottle of Heinz 57 sauce that included the claim ‘MFD. In U.S.A.’ on the product label, but it contained ingredients made outside of the U.S. Alaei said if she would have known this, she never would have bought the product.
Judge Michael M. Anello, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, granted Heinz’s motion to dismiss the case without prejudice, stating that Alaei failed to plead facts required for fraud-based claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b). He also stated that Alaei lacked standing regarding products she didn’t purchase.
While Alaei alleged that she purchased one bottle of Heinz 57, she said she was representing all Californians who purchased any Heinz product advertised as "Made in the U.S.A." but was made outside the U.S. or contained ingredients that were made outside the U.S.
Through her complaint, Alaei challenged the origin of the ingredients that make up the sauce, but didn’t provide any allegations as to where the sauce’s ingredients were manufactured. She also didn’t allege that the Heinz 57 sauce was manufactured outside the U.S. The court held that Alaei lacked standing to make claims against a product she never bought and whose advertising she never saw.
In May, Alaei filed a second amended complaint, which was objected to by Heinz. In this compliant, Alaei alleged that she purchased one of three sauces produced by Heinz that violate California law. The other sauces include Heinz 57 Steak Sauce and Heinz 57 Sauce with Honey. A hearing date has been set for Aug 1.
“Only California has a state law that specifically regulates the standard for a Made in the U.S.A. designation,” Bonnie Patten, executive director at Truth In Advertising Inc. (TINA.org), told Legal Newsline.
“Twenty-six states have laws with regard to the geographic origin of products, which adopt in sum and/or substance the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practice Act provision, which states that is unlawful to use ‘deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services.'"
TINA.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering consumers against false advertising.
“Twenty-one states have no laws pertaining to ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ labeling or geographic designation,” Patten said. “As of December 2015, TINA.org was aware of seven class actions filed in various states (other than California) alleging deceptive ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ claims.”