`Olive Oil Lawsuits Loom - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Lawsuits Loom

May. 28, 2013
Nancy Flagg

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Purveyors of olive oil, who label their oil as pure when it is not, should beware. Lawsuits tar­get­ing spe­cific pro­duc­ers for mis­la­bel­ing are pop­ping up and might rep­re­sent just the tip of the lit­i­ga­tion iceberg.

In February 2013, the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) took its first civil action when it sued Kangadis Foods (doing busi­ness as The Gourmet Factory”) for unlaw­ful, mis­lead­ing and decep­tive mis­brand­ing.” The suit claimed that the company’s Capatriti brand 100% Pure Olive Oil” con­tained chem­i­cally extracted pomace oil. A Federal judge ruled that Kangadis must either recall its 100% Pure Olive Oil” or apply stick­ers to every tin noti­fy­ing cus­tomers that the prod­uct is not pure olive oil. Eryn Balch, exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the NAOOA indi­cated that the case is not over yet.”

In April, a class action com­plaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Kangadis. The action alleges, By mis­la­bel­ing its prod­ucts, Gourmet Factory dupes con­sumers into pur­chas­ing some­thing that is not olive oil.” The action fur­ther alleges that by label­ing and sell­ing the prod­uct as olive oil, it com­mands a sub­stan­tial price pre­mium over other pomace products.”

On May 16, legal firm Finkelstein Thompson announced that it is inves­ti­gat­ing poten­tial claims that Kalamata brand 100% Pure Olive Oil and Botticelli brand Pure 100% Olive Oil may be decep­tively labeled.” The firm is ask­ing any­one who has pur­chased the named prod­ucts or other brands (not labeled as extra-vir­gin, vir­gin or light) to step for­ward to dis­cuss your rights and the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing your oil tested for purity at no cost to you.”

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Two years ago, a class action law­suit in California against major olive oil importers and retail­ers was with­drawn when attor­neys for the plain­tiffs were unable to repro­duce the results of a UC Davis study that was cen­tral to their complaint.

Olive Oil Times con­trib­u­tor and legal expert Virginia Brown Keyder rec­om­mends cau­tion: While this new trend of olive oil lit­i­ga­tion bodes well for a flag­ging legal indus­try, one hopes that those in the sec­tor do not fall prey to the idea that com­pe­ti­tion should play out in the court­room. Many have dis­cov­ered to their peril how dan­ger­ous and expen­sive that can be.”


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