AHA, Campbell Soup Accused of Duping Consumers With Heart Certification

19 Aug 2013 --- Campbell soups that are certified by the American Heart Association (AHA) are duping consumers into believing the products meet the organization's nutritional guidelines, according to a proposed class action lawsuit that was filed in New Jersey federal court.

A full can of AHA-certified soup contains up to seven times the amount of sodium than AHA's non-commercial nutritional guidelines actually permit, the named plaintiff Kerry O'Shea of Huntington Beach, Calif., alleges.

The lawsuit contends AHA has certified Campbell soups for a fee under a deceptive practice that puts millions of consumers with congestive heart failure at risk and causes people to overpay for the products.

"The AHA’s nationally recognized ''Heart-Check Mark' certification thus fools consumers by misrepresenting that products bearing the Heart-Check Mark certification meet the AHA’s heart-healthy nutritional guidelines. That misrepresentation (or omission of the true facts) is unfair, deceptive, and misleading, because the AHA’s Heart-Check Mark certification does not signify adherence to those guidelines," the lawsuit claims.

According to the complaint, at least 33 Campbell soups display AHA's Heart-Check Mark on their labels and in advertising materials. AHA uses certification criteria that reflects minimum criteria set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rather than the association's more stringent standards, the lawsuit claims.

Carla Burigatto, a spokesperson for Campbell, declined to comment on the lawsuit, noting the company hadn't been served with the complaint.

AHA declared  in a written statement: "Our Food Certification Program regularly conducts laboratory testing to verify that products earning the Heart Check meet our nutritional criteria, which are more stringent than those of the Food and Drug Administration."

"Food manufacturers applying to the Food Certification Program pay an administrative fee, which is only sufficient for the program's product testing, public information and program operating expenses," AHA added. "If a food product does not meet our criteria, it does not receive our Heart Check certification."
 

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