May 24, 2011 / 9:55 PM / 7 years ago

Oscar Mayer lunchmeat nearly fat free? No: lawsuit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oscar Mayer Foods misleads consumers about the fat content of some of its products, according to a lawsuit filed against the deli meats maker and its parent company Kraft Foods on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Miami, claims that Oscar Mayer leads customers to believe that some of its foods are less fatty than they are by juxtaposing the percentage of total “fat free” content next to the number of calories per serving on product labels.

People buy Oscar Mayer foods based on these misleading claims, the complaint says.

“It all begins with the packaging,” says the lawsuit, which displays a photograph of Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Cajun Seasoned Chicken Breast.

The company says that the food is 98 percent fat free and 50 calories per serving, which the lawsuit said tells customers that “98 percent of the 50 calories per serving are fat free and that only two calories come from fat.”

“However, this claim is false and the product actually contains 10 times the fat calories per serving,” the complaint adds. “It is deception and trickery at its finest.”

“The lawsuit is unfounded,” said Kraft Foods spokeswoman Sydney Lindner in an email message. “We stand behind the statements on our labels, which are true and clear. What’s more, these labels are regulated and approved by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) prior to use.”

The lawsuit says that Oscar Mayer and Kraft violated unfair trade practices laws, and is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit.

It asks the court to force the company to stop running false and misleading and to reimburse people who bought the products. It also wants the company to pay lawyers’ fees and costs.

It said that Kraft’s liability could exceed $5 million.

The case is McDougall v. Kraft Foods, Inc., U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 0:11-cv-61202-JIC

Reporting by Moira Herbst. Editing by Robert MacMillan

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