Business

'Veronica Foods' Lawsuit Dismissed

A lawsuit filed last year by the North American Olive Oil Association against the distributor to specialty shops was dismissed after the court found that "standing had not been established."

Nov. 3, 2017
By Olive Oil Times Staff

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A law­suit against Veronica Foods, the major American dis­trib­u­tor for olive oil shops and tast­ing bars, has been dis­missed.

Yesterday, the defen­dants’ motions to dis­miss the com­plaint were granted after the court found that “stand­ing had not been estab­lished,” and the case was closed.

We’re dis­ap­pointed with the court’s deci­sion, which was not based on the under­ly­ing merits of our case but on a tech­ni­cal­ity.- Joseph R. Profaci, NAOOA

The trade group of major American importers of olive oil, the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), filed the law­suit against the California-based, spe­cialty store dis­trib­u­tor Veronica Foods and some of its New York-area retail­ers for what it called “false, mis­lead­ing and sci­en­tif­i­cally unsub­stan­ti­ated state­ments about olive oil sold in super­mar­kets, claim­ing it lacks the health ben­e­fits con­sumers expect.”

Veronica Foods sup­plies olive oils to hun­dreds of spe­cialty retails shops through­out the U.S. where oils are dis­played in stain­less con­tain­ers, called fusti. Customers are invited to taste oils before they make a pur­chase, and oils are sold in bot­tles bear­ing the shop’s pri­vate label.

Joseph R. Profaci, the newly-appointed exec­u­tive direc­tor of the NAOOA told Olive Oil Times today, “Sure, we’re dis­ap­pointed with the court’s deci­sion, which was not based on the under­ly­ing merits of our case but on a tech­ni­cal­ity. We dis­agree with the con­clu­sion that the NAOOA does not have stand­ing to sue on behalf of its mem­bers, and we are con­sid­er­ing all of our options.”

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“We stand by the alle­ga­tions of the com­plaint,” Profaci added. “While we have noth­ing against Veronica Foods and other com­pa­nies that market oils through spe­cialty shops, we object to mar­ket­ing prac­tices that we believe are mis­lead­ing to con­sumers, and cause con­sumers to believe that the health ben­e­fits of olive oil are only avail­able in oils sold through such spe­cialty out­lets.”

Veronica Foods and the retail­ers it sup­plies market their oils as being ‘Ultra Premium,’ “which it touts as the high­est stan­dard in the indus­try,” accord­ing to the NAOOA com­plaint that cited the Veronica Foods web­site.

The NAOOA com­plained that the Veronica Foods’ use of its Ultra Premium mark and seal was a “self-cre­ated des­ig­na­tion used exclu­sively by the com­pany and its retail­ers to sell Veronica Foods olive oils. Thus, the use of the UP des­ig­na­tion itself is false and mis­lead­ing in that con­sumers are led to believe that the olive oil was cer­ti­fied, spon­sored or approved by a third party.”

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The NAOOA also took issue with claims made on the web­site of a Veronica-sup­plied retailer: “Defendant D’Avolio, a retailer of VFC’s olive oil, has par­tic­u­larly tar­geted brands sold in super­mar­kets, where NAOOA mem­bers’ brands are pri­mar­ily sold. In pro­mot­ing its own UP cer­ti­fied olive oils (pur­chased from VFC), D’Avolio dis­torts find­ings of an alleged indus­try report to rep­re­sent to con­sumers that var­i­ous brands sold in super­mar­kets hold no health ben­e­fits.”

Veronica Foods did not imme­di­ately respond to a request for com­ment, but ear­lier said: ” We stand by the truth and accu­racy of all of the state­ments we have made related to olive oil and our related prod­ucts.”

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“We are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing con­sumers with the high­est qual­ity prod­ucts avail­able and rely on state of the art sci­en­tific research and inde­pen­dent lab test­ing,” the com­pany wrote in an email to Olive Oil Times in response to the law­suit last December. “Our sources include pub­lished U.C. Davis research, test­ing and research by Modern Olives Laboratory, a world-lead­ing olive oil test­ing com­pany, and lead­ing experts such as Christian Gertz and Thomas Mueller.”

“The NAOOA is a trade orga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents some of the largest national and inter­na­tional olive oil sell­ers in the coun­try. We believe the NAOOA has filed this law­suit against Veronica Foods in an attempt to inter­fere with our efforts to improve the qual­ity of olive oil and accu­racy of olive oil label­ing,” said Veronica Foods in its writ­ten response.

Earlier this year, a Georgia court dis­missed another NAOOA law­suit against the tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Dr. Mehmet Oz that chal­lenged what the NAOOA called “false attacks” that sin­gled out imported olive oils, and for claim­ing during a show that 80 per­cent of the extra virgin olive oil sold in U. S. super­mar­kets isn’t “real.”



This is a break­ing news arti­cle. Check back for updates.