Alameda & San Diego DA’s Offices Settle Civil Lawsuit with Campbell Soup Company

OAKLAND -- Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced today that her office and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office have settled a civil lawsuit brought against the Campbell Soup Company for engaging in advertising practices that the District Attorneys believed to be misleading.

The subject of the lawsuit was a variety of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup that was advertised as containing “25% Less Sodium.” As alleged in the Complaint, up until mid-2009, the 25% Less Sodium soup did in fact contain approximately 25% less sodium than the traditional condensed tomato soup variety.

Beginning in August 2009, however, Campbell reduced the sodium in both varieties of condensed tomato soup, so that the both “25% Less Sodium” variety and the traditional variety contained the same amount of sodium per serving (according to their respective nutritional labels). Campbell continued to sell the 25% Less Sodium variety following the sodium reduction, but included a footnote stating that the “25% Less Sodium” claim was based on a comparison with the “average” of “regular condensed soup.” It was the opinion of the District Attorneys that this practice was misleading to consumers.

As part of the judgment in this action, and without admitting liability, Campbell agreed to pay a total of $173,693 in monetary relief and to abide by advertising guidelines that will guard against such potential consumer confusion in the future. Previously Campbell had voluntarily retrieved all of the cans of 25% Less Sodium condensed tomato soup that were offered for sale in California and they cooperated with the District Attorneys’ investigation.

“We appreciate any effort to bring healthier food products to market, but our office remains committed to addressing potentially misleading advertising practices, however they may arise,” said Alameda County District Attorney O’Malley.


Posted on Aug 25, 2011