Lawsuit Claims Safeway Deliberately Sold Under-Filled Tuna Cans

The amount of tuna packaged into small circular containers is once again at the center of a consumer lawsuit. This time the $5 million complaint revolves around allegedly under-filled cans of Safeway-branded tuna. 

The potential class action, filed Nov. 5 in California, accuses the nation’s second largest supermarket chain of short-changing customers by selling cans of tuna that didn’t contain the full five ounces advertised on the label.

The complaint, filed by a California man who says he bought five cans of tuna every two weeks for two years based on their label, accuses Safeway of violating the state’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition and False Advertising laws.

According to the lawsuit [PDF], recent testing by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that a sample of five cans of Safeway-branded Chunk Light Tuna were under-filled and substantially underweight.

The cans were found to have contained an average of 2.29 ounces of tuna, 19.4% less than the federally mandated minimum standard fill of 2.84 ounces for the specific cans.

Tests of seven cans of Safeway Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water found similar issues: they contained an average of 2.83 ounces of pressed cake tuna, about 12.4% below federally mandated standards.

A second round of tests by NOAA found the cans contained tuna between 6% and 10.6% below the standard fill.

“Safeway is cheating purchasers by providing less tuna than they are paying for,” the suit states. “Safeway Tuna did not have the characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities as promised.”

The lawsuit, which also accuses Safeway of breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation and fraud, seeks $5 million in damages for anyone who purchased five-ounce cans of Safeway Chunk Light Tuna in Water and Safeway Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water.

The complaint against Safeway is the second filed by the California man related to under-filled tuna cans. A similar suit [PDF], also filed on Nov. 5, accuses seafood wholesaler Wild Planet Foods of cheating purchasers by providing less tuna than they were paying for.

Both lawsuits come three months after Starkist agreed to settle a class action lawsuit accusing the company of deliberately under-filling each can of tuna by a few tenths of an ounce.

Under the terms of that settlement, resident of the United States who bought at least one five-ounce can of any of these tunas from Starkist between February 19, 2009 and October 31, 2014, are eligible to file a claim for $25 in cash or $50 in tuna.

[via The San Jose Mercury News]

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