Nestle Faces $5 Million Lawsuit Over Trans Fats

A California woman is bringing a class action lawsuit against Nestle with allegations that consumption of the company’s frozen pizza brand is a hazard to the health of consumers. In the lawsuit, Katie Simpson claims that the food item contains “toxic food additives,” that were not made apparent on the package label.

Nestle makes three popular brands of store-bought pizzas: DiGirono, Stouffer’s and California Pizza Kitchen’s packages version (the lawsuit, however, does not pertain to the California Pizza Kitchen’s restaurant foods). Simpson and her lawyers are asking the Swiss company for $5 million and say they want Nestle to pay for the equivalent of the price of every pizza they have ever sold, according to ABC News. The lawsuit is claiming that the company is causing public health issues by not taking trans fats out of their product. Simpson, who has children, is focused on the fact that she frequently feeds pizza to her children and feels Nestle should do a better job of informing consumers of what potentially harmful ingredients are in their product.

The Food and Drug Administration and the federal government have laws requiring that ingredients be clearly shown on food labels, but there are no laws against packaged foods containing trans fat. Some states and municipalities, however, have banned the use of trans fat in foods served in restaurants.

Whereas studies have shown that trans fat has negative affects on cholesterol, some still argue that they are harmless; or argue that even if a product is labeled “trans-free”, under law, it can still contain some, so we may be consuming it either way. Many critics of the lawsuit are saying that Simpson and others should just take the time to review their products and don’t buy ones with trans fats, and leave the issue out of court.

Supporters of the lawsuit maintain that trans fat and the like should be banned from food altogether, and that merely labeling in small print is not sufficient. Food consumers should not have to scour their products for signs of bad fats; especially because they are banned in so many other countries already and health risks have been shown.

In a similar lawsuit, McDonald's was accused of misinforming customers about trans-fat levels, and settled for over $8 million. Nestle could be facing the same fate; as the suit unravels, it could set precedent for trans fat labeling in America.

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