The cases in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California are Gardner et al v StarKist ; v Tri-Union Seafoods and v Bumble Bee Foods
Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist accused of 'dolphin-safe' fraud
Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 21:40 (GMT + 9)
U.S. consumers sued Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist, accusing the country’s three major packaged-tuna brands of deceiving them into thinking their tuna is caught only through “dolphin-safe” fishing practices.
The proposed class actions filed on Monday said the defendants employ fishing techniques that kill or harm dolphins, and do not always use safer, costlier pole-and-line and other methods used by such rivals as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.
The International Dolphin Safe Monitoring Program, maintains that its monitors covering more than 800 companies in 76 countries around the world, to ensure that tuna is caught without chasing or netting of dolphins. Dolphin deaths in tuna nets have declined by 99 percent since 1990.
The consumers said this makes the defendants’ dolphin-safe labels false and misleading, violating the laws of several U.S. states including California, Florida, New Jersey and New York.
They also said StarKist violated federal racketeering law through its alleged dealings with foreign fishing companies.
Tuna cans marketed by WholeFoods where it can be clearly seen that it has been hooked on an individual basis
Concern about dolphin safety “makes tuna fish consumers no different from Hindus attributing zero value to beef products, or vegans attributing zero value to animal products, or vegetarians attributing zero value to meat, fish, and poultry,” the complaints said.
StarKist said it does not discuss pending litigation, but would not buy tuna “caught in association with dolphins.” It also condemned “indiscriminate fishing methods” that trap dolphins along with the intended catch.
Bumble Bee did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment. Chicken of the Sea had no immediate comment.
Tuna Tuna from TraderJoe's where the fishing method is also clearly observed
The lawsuits filed with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco seek full refunds for consumers nationwide who bought tuna in the last four years, or for premiums paid for the dolphin-safe claims.
It was not immediately clear how the consumers plan to show the claims were misleading. Their law firm did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.
The complaints said the defendants have made dolphin-safe claims since 1990, when the federal Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act banned false labeling of tuna products.
Source: Jonathan Stempel / Reuters - Read the whole article here