U.S. Superior Court Judge for the District of Columbia Heidi Pasichow denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging Aldi was misleading in its sustainability claims for its fresh salmon products from the ‘Atlantic.
Filed in January 2021, the lawsuit alleges Aldi’s use of the phrase “Simple. Sustainable. Seafood.” about its Atlantic salmon products “leads consumers to believe that the salmon has been raised to high environmental and animal welfare standards, but in reality the salmon comes from unsustainable sources,” said Toxin Free USA, which is suing Aldi, in a new press Release. GMO/Toxin Free USA is a nonprofit organization that campaigns against the use of GMOs, synthetic pesticides, and other toxins in food products. Its complaint describes net-pen farms in Chile, the source of some of the salmon sold by Aldi, as using an “ecologically unsafe method” of salmon production in which thousands of fish are crammed into cages or cages. enclosed.
In denying Aldi’s motion to dismiss, Pasichow said Toxin Free USA had alleged sufficient “factual content to allow the court to reasonably draw the conclusion that the defendant is liable for the alleged wrongdoing.”
Toxin Free USA has provided sufficient information showing that Aldi’s packaging and marketing are misleading and confusing to consumers, and has provided documents indicating that consumers may perceive the word “sustainable” as misleading, according to the ruling. of the court.
“We are pleased to see the court stand up for consumers and reject Aldi’s claims that no reasonable consumer would believe its misrepresentations,” said Toxin Free USA executive director Diana Reeves. this legal battle in our ongoing campaign to protect consumers from patently false marketing claims. »
Aldi did not respond to SeafoodSouce’s request for comment on the decision.
In the same ruling, Pasichow said the Global Seafood Alliance’s assertions made in an amicus curae brief “that a reasonable consumer would understand the defendant’s sustainability claim on its packaging to reflect seafood sourced in accordance industry best practices”, were not compelling enough to dismiss the case. The GSA had argued that Aldi’s sustainability claim for its salmon product was linked to its Best Aquaculture Practices eco-label.
“Defendant’s emphasis on context and visualization of the word ‘sustainable’ with the BAP certification ignores the fact that the reasonable consumer might not know the level of reputation of the BAP seal, or even what the BAP,” Pasichow wrote.
Toxic Free USA cited Federal Trade Commission guidelines that a claim that something is “sustainable” is likely to convey to consumers that the product has “specific and far-reaching environmental benefits and may mean that the item…has no environmental impact,” according to its filing.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for March 25, 2022.
Toxin Free USA is represented by Richman Law & Policy, which has filed similar deceptive marketing lawsuits against other seafood vendors and food companies.
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