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Campbell Soups False “No Preservatives” Claims Class Action

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Campbell's Slow Kettle Style Tomato & Sweet Basil Bisque

Do certain Campbell soups contain preservatives, even though their labels say they do not? The complaint for this class action says yes, and claims that Campbell’s is trying to take advantage of “consumers’ preference for less processed foods with fewer additives and the association between such products and a wholesome way of life.”

The class for this action is all persons or entities in the US who made retail purchases of the products at issue in this case during the applicable limitations period. Alternatively, the complaint proposes New York and California subclasses.

The complaint quotes reports showing that consumers are willing to pay more for products that they perceive as being healthier or better. What are consumers looking for? An Alternet.org report quotes one expert as saying, “Just think of the word no… No preservatives, no additives, no growth hormones.”

At issue in this case are these products:

  • Campbell’s Slow Kettle Style Tomato & Sweet Basil Bisque, which contains citric acid
  • Campbell’s Homestyle Harvest Tomato with Basil, which contains citric acid and ascorbic acid
  • Campbell’s Homestyle Zesty Tomato Bisque, which contains citric acid
  • Any other Campbell product that claims to have no preservatives despite containing citric acid, ascorbic acid, and/or any other preservatives.

These products are labeled as having “No Preservatives” or as being “Made With Patience, Not Preservatives,” yet they contain citric acid and/or ascorbic acid.

In its Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives, and Colors, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically classifies citric acid and ascorbic acid as preservatives. The FDA also says, “The term chemical preservative means any chemical that, when added to food, tends to prevent or retard deterioration thereof…”

In fact, the complaint quotes a warning letter the FDA sent to the maker of Chiquita brand Pineapple Bites and Pineapple Bites with Coconut, saying that these “products are further misbranded … in that they contain the chemical preservative ascorbic acid and citric acid but their labels fail to declare these preservatives with a description of their functions.”

Among other things, the complaint cites New York’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act as forbidding “deceptive acts or practices” in business and its False Advertising Law as forbidding “advertising, including labeling …  if such advertising is misleading in a material respect.” It also claims violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, which forbids “[r]epresenting that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities which they do not have…” 

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