Consumers Win $3 Million Suit Against Big Tuna

The civil consumer suit was brought against Bumble Bee Foods, Tri-Union Seafoods—doing business as Chicken of the Sea International —and Starkist Co. in 2010.

Temecula food banks could be among the beneficiaries of a $3.3 million settlement in a civil consumer protection action brought against three tuna companies by prosecutors in Riverside and two other counties.

Three companies -- Bumble Bee Foods, Tri-Union Seafoods—doing business as Chicken of the Sea International—and Starkist Co. -- are accused of underfilling their cans with protein.

As part of the settlement, the companies agreed to an injunction to follow federal packing standards for canned tuna products. The companies also agreed to pay civil penalties, costs and other relief.

The case was brought by district attorneys' offices in Riverside, San Diego and Marin counties based on a 2010 investigation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture into the amount of tuna in cans.

Tuna is often packed in water, oil and vegetable broth, and the amount of tuna relative to additional ingredients is controlled by a federal "standard of fill." The investigation found that the three tuna-packing companies failed to meet the required amount of tuna in cans packed with vegetable broth and added flavors.

Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea are San Diego-based companies. Starkist is based in Pittsburgh. All three companies distribute canned tuna throughout California.

Because it would not be feasible to identify those consumers who purchased under-filled cans, part of the settlement orders the companies to provide $300,000 in canned tuna within 120 days to be distributed to food banks in California.

The judgment also requires the division of costs and penalties among San Diego, Marin and Riverside counties, with each office receiving $969,500, and the payment of $86,000 in investigate costs to the CDFA Division of Measurement Standards, which played a leading role in the investigation.

Brenda August 03, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Yeah Mike, and I wish they would check every manufacturer seriously. We get ripped by that small writing that says the size of the container may not be indicative of how much is inside after settling of product etc. EXCUSEEEEEE ME. but if you buy a box of cereal and it is less them half full and that is before I shake it down to settle it more, something is not right. Why not box the product then in the correct size container, cut back on manufacturing costs and pass that savings onto the consumers. Now back to Tuna, hello like we didnt know something was wrong when you open up a CAN and get one tablespoon of tuna right? And the proceed to pour off 1/4 cup of water and other cloudy stuff. Lets keep going inspectors and eat yourself into oblivion while you are testing every product out there and at the same time change the protocol on boxing and canning and that they cannot contain water to fill them up, or air, and in making the containers to fit the amount of product pass that savings onto the consumer. Simple, we just need a group of 10 citzens we vote in, not our Government structure that only cares about who has what chair, and those 10 go through all the things we need to do to make our USA FAIR, no matter what it is, even Tuna, and make changes once "The People" vote each month on what changes should take effect in the next month. Save on Politician payroll and expense accts, AND we take the issue, public votes, we fix it. Very simple. :)
Harold Sharpe August 03, 2012 at 10:25 PM
The title says consumers win. Please tell us how did we win? It looks as thought the food banks won and maybe some counties won. I have to ask you when was the last time you found a full bag of potato chips? It looks to me more like attorneys won going after big pockets.
TVOR August 04, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Consumers won because tuna cans will be more full now.
Mike August 05, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Just buy quality tuna , trader joes...... Starkest And other cheap tuna is cat food..... What you expect for a buck a can?..... The lawyers got rich ! the consumers got a lil more poor quality tuna in a can??? Like I said sounds fishy
AFR August 18, 2012 at 05:10 PM
That's weird. Just as I commented on the Walgreens article, "Just started paying attention to illegal activities since 2009? Right around the economical downturn. I'm sure it's just a coincidence. I'm sure our state and federal agencies aren't doing their jobs now because they need the money paid in fines and violations." Now in this article, "2010 investigation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture". I'm sure it's just a coinidence. No conspiracy.


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