Campbell Soup Co. and the American Heart Association were sued by a consumer who claimed the AHA fraudulently certifies the company’s products as healthy.
The association labels more than 30 of Campbell’s Healthy Request soups as “heart-healthy” even though a can has at least six times as much sodium as the organization recommends, according to a complaint filed yesterday by Kerry O’Shea in federal court in Camden, New Jersey. Those soups display the AHA’s “Heart-Check Mark” logo, which the organization licenses, according to the complaint.
Campbell, the world’s largest soup maker, and the heart association “falsely represent” that products with the logo have cardiovascular benefits lacking in other soups, according to the complaint. Higher sodium levels contribute to elevated blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The logo “fools consumers by misrepresenting that products bearing the Heart-Check Mark certification meet the AHA’s heart-healthy nutritional guidelines,” according to the complaint. “That misrepresentation (or omission of the true facts) is unfair, deceptive, and misleading.”
A spokeswoman for Camden-based Campbell, Carla Burigatto, said in a voice-mail that the company hadn’t been served with the complaint.
In an e-mailed statement, the American Heart Association, a nonprofit organization based in Dallas, said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
“Our Food Certification Program regularly conducts laboratory testing to verify that products earning the Heart Check meet our nutritional criteria, which are more stringent than those of the Food and Drug Administration,” according to the e-mail. Food companies pay an administrative fee, it said.
O’Shea, who lives in Huntington Beach, California, is seeking to sue under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act on behalf of a class of buyers of Heart Check-labeled Healthy Request soup.
The case is O’Shea v. Campbell Soup Co., 13-cv-04887, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).