Legal spat over Campbell Soup still simmering

NEW YORK Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:49pm EDT

Cans of Campbell's Soup are stocked on a shelf at a grocery store in Phoenix, Arizona, February 22, 2010. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Cans of Campbell's Soup are stocked on a shelf at a grocery store in Phoenix, Arizona, February 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - M'm! M'm! Salty?

A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to go ahead against Campbell Soup Co, the world's largest soup-maker, over whether its purported "low-sodium" tomato soup really has less sodium.

Four New Jersey women had sued the company last year, contending they were misled into paying more for the "low sodium" brand. They say it had almost as much sodium as Campbell's regular tomato soup.

U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle on Wednesday denied a motion to dismiss the case, saying the women could press claims under New Jersey's consumer fraud act because reasonable consumers could have found Campbell's labels misleading.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, said Campbell's "less sodium" claim was a comparison to a collection of the company's regular soups, not the tomato soup, but that was not clearly labeled.

"Consumers should not have to read the back of the soup can to be sure the information on the front is truthful," a lawyer for the women, Lester Levy of Wolf Popper LLP, said in a statement.

Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell, known for the "M'm! M'm! Good!" advertising slogan, said the allegations are without merit and it will fight the case in court.

"Campbell has complete confidence in the accuracy of our labels and our marketing communications and that they meet regulatory and other legal requirements," Campbell said in a statement.

(Reporting by Dena Aubin; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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