Kraft Heinz Foods Company is facing a $5 million class action lawsuit over its “false and misleading” advertising for the Velveeta brand microwavable mac and cheese cups. A Florida woman is challenging the company’s claim that the meal takes only three and a half minutes to prepare.The lawsuit, filed last month by Amanda Ramirez, alleges that the Velveeta Shells & Cheese single-serve cups take longer than advertised to prepare. According to the complaint, the advertised three and a half minutes doesn’t account for the other four steps required: removing the lid and sauce pouch, adding water, microwaving and stirring. Ramirez’s attorneys argue that Kraft sells the product at “a substantial price premium” using false advertising and is unfairly profiting off of it.Aside from the $5 million in damages, Ramirez seeks punitive damages and asks that the company cease deceptive advertising and conduct a corrective advertising campaign.Firm co-founder Miguel Custodio joined Telemundo’s Al Rojo Vivo last week and said that the company is making false promises in their marketing, which is why there is a “good probability” for Ramirez to win.Unfortunately, there have been many other cases where companies misled consumers, but lawsuits like Ramirez’s ensure that consequences are given.What qualifies as false advertising?If you’re unsure about what qualifies as false advertising, here are a few examples from the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs:
- Misleading product warranties or guarantees
- Guaranteeing a certain quality of product or offering warranties and not following through
- Unbacked environmentally friendly claims:
- Advertising a product as environmentally friendly but not being able to provide supporting evidence
- Inaccurate photos
- Including a picture that is not a true representation of the product being advertised
Examples of false advertising by companies:
- Gerber made unsupported claims that its Good Start Gentle formula prevented children from developing allergies.
- After being sued in 2014 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the lawsuit settled in 2019 with Gerber agreeing not to make any similar claims for the product.
- Volkswagen falsely advertised some of their diesel cars as environmentally friendly.
- The FTC filed a lawsuit against the company in 2016 for deceiving customers with an advertising campaign it used to promote “Clean Diesel” vehicles. In 2020, the FTC reported that VW repaid more than $9.5 billion to car buyers who were deceived by their ad campaign.
- Dannon made unsubstantiated claims that its Activia brand yogurt had “special bacterial ingredients” and sold it at 30% higher prices than similar products.
- The company faced a class action lawsuit in 2008 and settled it in 2010 for $45 million. Dannon was also ordered to remove “clinically” and “scientifically proven” from its labels.
If you believe a product you purchased was advertised in a false, misleading or deceitful way, please contact Custodio & Dubey LLP to discuss your options.
While it’s good to keep an eye out for false advertising, make sure your claims are substantial and always have a lawyer evaluate your case!