Step away from the frozen pizza if you want to avoid cancer. That's what California mom Katie Simpson would say if she were in your kitchen right now. She filed a lawsuit to that effect earlier this month.
It's not that Simpson hates all junk food. She has a particular problem with frozen pizza. Specifically, she's upset with Nestle and its California Pizza Kitchen brand of frozen pies.
The company also makes Stouffer's and DiGiorno's, and all of them are big problems in Simpson's book. She's suing them over their trans-fat content.
Remember all the brouhaha over trans fats that happened a few years ago? While some states and cities banned it from restaurants, that still leaves food producers free to include it in their products.
One of the major reasons for using partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, the major source of trans fat, is to keep costs down. It's a less expensive fat than available alternatives.
Simpson claims that allows Nestle to offer its pizza brands at a lower price, which makes it hard for "healthier" frozen pizzas to compete. She herself bought a few CPK frozen pies last year before learning they had trans fats, reports Patch.com.
Now she wants the companies to pay for "increasing profit at the expense of consumer health," as she states in the complaint.
Since when did frozen pizza become healthy anyway?
Simpson filed the suit as a class action on behalf of any consumer who's been eating the "toxic carcinogen." She's asking the court for $5 million in damages.
But Nestle insists it hasn't done anything wrong. The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture allow trans fat as an ingredient in foods.
The only requirement is that companies label these and any other ingredients. Nestle complies with that, as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is listed in the ingredients on its frozen pizzas.
So is putting profits above consumer health something Simpson can sue for?
If her argument is that Nestle mislabeled its products to mislead consumers, then she may potentially have a viable argument. Companies are required to properly label products so consumers know what they contain.
Successful lawsuits against McDonalds in 2005 were based on that idea. The fast-food giant settled two lawsuits that claimed McD's misled consumers about the level of trans fats in their food.
Simpson and her attorney don't want much from Nestle -- just "all the money they have ever made from the frozen pizzas," reports ABC News. The company is still reviewing the lawsuit.
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