The head of a California-based organization has filed a lawsuit against Trader Joe’s Co. over the retailer’s alleged noncompliance with country-of-origin labeling (COOL) laws, particularly of meat products.
According to MeatPoultry.com, Joel Joseph, chairman of the Made in the USA Foundation, filed the lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Supreme Court on allegations the company is selling meat and product to consumers under COOL labels that are misleading and consumers.
“Many of these products were labeled ‘Product of USA and Mexico,’ some meat products are labeled ‘Product of Australia, USA, Nicaragua and New Zealand,’ and similar labels that are inaccurate, misleading and not in compliance with California and Federal law,” the complaint states.
Food Safety News reports Joseph filed the lawsuit in April on behalf of members of the generic public who have purchased the products over the last three years.
“Plaintiff and 80 percent of the general public, desire to purchase American-made groceries,” Joseph writes in the complaint. “When plaintiff purchased his groceries at Trader Joe’s, there was no way that he knew the country of origin of the meat and produce.”
Joseph explained in a news release that he "helped draft, lobby and achieve the passage of the federal Country of Origin Labeling Act. The entire purpose of [the] Country of Origin Labeling Act is that no commingling would be allowed so that consumers could choose American food over foreign if they so desired.”
“Consumers may want to avoid food from certain countries and with Trader Joe's misleading and confusing labeling with multiple countries listed on meat and produce, it's almost impossible for consumers to make informed, intelligent choices to protect their health and their family's health,” he continued.
A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 22. In addition to seeking $25,000 in damages, Joseph also will ask the court for an injunction against Trader Joe’s to immediately correct the company's labeling practices.