Transnational Foods, Inc named in class action lawsuit over sales of fake octopus

tfi

 

Transnational Foods, Inc (“TFI”) is a food product brand that sells three canned octopus products under the brand name “Pampa”: (1) Octopus in Garlic Sauce, (2) Octopus in Vegetable Oil, and (3) Octopus in Marinara Sauce (collectively the “Octopus Products”).

Cerqueira is a large seafood supplier and cannery that supplies various seafood products to United States based brands. At all times relevant, and during the relevant class period, it supplied and supplies all of the Octopus Products to TFI. It also sells similar products to other United States brands including but not limited to Roland Foods, Iberia, and Vigo Importing Co., and Conchita Foods, Inc. (all octopus sold in the United States which were and are supplied by Cerqueira shall be referred to as the “Cerqueira Cross-Brand Octopus Products”).

TFI has labeled and sold its Octopus Products as octopus (or pulpo). Independent DNA testing, however, has determined that TFI’s Octopus Products (supplied by Cerqueira) are actually jumbo squid and not octopus; squid is significantly cheaper and of a lower quality than octopus. The word “Octopus” or “Pulpo” is prominently displayed on the label of each box in a large font as shown below. Nowhere on the box does it state that the Octopus Products contain squid instead of octopus. Additional testing has revealed that this bait and switch is occurring throughout the Cerqueira Cross-Brand Octopus Products.

Plaintiff is informed and believes that TFI and Cerqueira have intentionally replaced the octopus in its Octopus Products with squid as a cheap substitute to save money because they knew an ordinary consumer would have trouble distinguishing the difference. In fact, in 2011, CERQUEIRA was sanctioned by a local government in Spain for this bait and switch, and CERQUEIRA committed to stopping the offending conduct.

Complaint

Attorneys investigating ingredient fraud in herbal supplements sold by GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart

The New York Attorney General sent letters to GNC, Target, Walgreens And Walmart asking them to stop selling certain of its herbal supplements which, when tested, either could not be verified to contain the labeled substance, or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on the labels.

The letters, sent Monday, call for the retailers to immediately stop the sale of certain popular products, including Echinacea, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort, and others. The letters come as DNA testing, performed as part of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, allegedly shows that, overall, just 21% of the test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels — with 79% coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material. The retailer with the poorest showing for DNA matching products listed on the label was Walmart. Only 4% of the Walmart products tested showed DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels.

Using DNA barcoding technology to examine the contents of herbal supplements, the Attorney General’s investigation is focused on what appears to be the practice of substituting contaminants and fillers in the place of authentic product. The testing revealed that all of the retailers were selling a large percentage of supplements for which modern DNA barcode technology could not detect the labeled botanical substance.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, while overall 21% of the product tests confirmed DNA barcodes from the plant species listed on the labels, 35% of the product tests identified DNA barcodes from plant species not listed on the labels, representing contaminants and fillers. A large number of the tests did not reveal any DNA from a botanical substance of any kind. Some of the contaminants identified include rice, beans, pine, citrus, asparagus, primrose, wheat, houseplant, wild carrot, and others. In many cases, unlisted contaminants were the only plant material found in the product samples.

Notwithstanding the fact that consumers are not getting what they paid for, failure to identify all the ingredients on a product’s label, puts a consumer with food allergies, or who is taking medication for an unrelated illness, at a potentially serious health risk every time a contaminated herbal supplement is ingested.

Testing Results

 

GNC:

Six “Herbal Plus” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto. Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: Garlic. One bottle of Saw Palmetto tested positive for containing DNA from the saw palmetto plant, while three others did not. The remaining four supplement types yielded mixed results, but none revealed DNA from the labeled herb.

Of 120 DNA tests run on 24 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 22% of the time.

Contaminants identified included asparagus, rice, primrose, alfalfa/clover, spruce, ranuncula, houseplant, allium, legume, saw palmetto, and Echinacea.

 

Target:

Six “Up & Up” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

Three supplements showed nearly consistent presence of the labeled contents: Echinacea (with one sample identifying rice), Garlic, and Saw Palmetto. The remaining three supplements did not revealed DNA from the labeled herb.

Of 90 DNA tests run on 18 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 41% of the time.

Contaminants identified included allium, French bean, asparagus, pea, wild carrot and saw palmetto.

 

Walgreens:

Six “Finest Nutrition” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: Saw Palmetto. The remaining five supplements yielded mixed results, with one sample of garlic showing appropriate DNA. The other bottles yielded no DNA from the labeled herb.

Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 18% of the time.

Contaminants identified included allium, rice, wheat, palm, daisy, and dracaena (houseplant).

 

Walmart:

Six “Spring Valley” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

None of the supplements tested consistently revealed DNA from the labeled herb. One bottle of garlic had a minimal showing of garlic DNA, as did one bottle of Saw Palmetto. All remaining bottles failed to produce DNA verifying the labeled herb.

Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 4% of the time.

Contaminants identified included allium, pine, wheat/grass, rice mustard, citrus, dracaena (houseplant), and cassava (tropical tree root).

 

The Attorney General’s investigation is focused on potential violations of New York’s General Business Law and Executive Law, including deceptive practices and deceptive advertising. GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart operate and sell these drugs nationwide.  Attorneys have started investigations on behalf of consumers in other states. If you have purchased any of these supplements in a state other than New York and wish to be part of this investigation or find out about your legal rights please write us via the “Contact Attorney Box” below.

As always, your public comments and experiences are also welcome below

Macy’s sued for selling false gold

As alleged in the complaint, Plaintiff bought a set of earrings from Macy’s that Macy’s labeled and marketed as “Fine Gold.” However, the earrings were not “Fine Gold.” They were much less valuable sterling silver covered with a micro layer of gold.

Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) rules prohibit the use of the word “Gold” or any abbreviation to describe all or part of any product not composed throughout of gold or a gold alloy. The use of the word “Gold” or its abbreviation is permitted only if they are “adequately qualified to indicate that the product or part is only surface-plated with gold.”

The complaint alleges that Macy’s failed to adequately qualify its product descriptions.

View a copy of the Complaint here.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – no so virgin, not so olive

A report from NaturalNews revisits a story that was broken last year and resulted in at least one class action by consumers regarding the false labeling of extra virgin olive oil (“EVOO”).

The report came on the heels of a book by Tom Mueller, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil which alleged that 70 percent of the extra virgin olive oil sold worldwide is watered down with other oils and enhancers. Mueller exposes the billion dollar industry, showing how EVOO is compromised world-wide. During volunteer testing by suppliers to authenticate what they thought were pure extra virgin olive oils, every brand submitted in Australia during 2012 failed the tests and none gained certification for being pure. Authentication tests at UC Davis in 2011 uncovered similar results.

A full version of the story can be found at : http://www.naturalnews.com/036509_extra_virgin_olive_oil_fraud_bottle.html

Results of the UC Davis findings can be found at: http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/

Tom Mueller’s book can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/Extra-Virginity-Sublime-Scandalous-World/dp/0393070212