The Southern District of California has approved the proposed settlement of a purported class action against Bumble Bee Foods. The plaintiff had alleged that he purchased defendant’s Medium Red Smoked Salmon Fillets product believing, based on the packaging and name, that “it was high-quality, wild-caught, smoked Alaskan salmon.”  But, Instead of receiving “high-quality, wild-caught, smoked salmon, plaintiff received low-quality, farm-raised, colored, smoke-flavored salmon.” 

The settlement requires (among other things) that Bumble Fee revise its packaging. Specifically, the revised packaging: (A) states that the product is “Smoke Flavored Salmon Fillets,” rather than “Smoked Salmon;” (B) no longer claims to be “Premium” or “Medium Red;” and (C) ...replaces the image that Plaintiff alleges suggests the product is wild caught, with an image that more fairly portrays the appearance of a farm-raised Coho salmon. Bumble Bee has further modified its website so that it no longer indicates that the product is “lightly smoked.” 

The possible lessons here, given today’s class action climate, with food claims and packaging under the microscope? Be precise in product descriptions and be cautious with exercising creative license on the label, even with imagery.