Los Angeles, CA: A $5 million federal consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed against California Pizza Kitchen, Nestle, Stouffer's, and DiGiornos, over allegations the brands are "deliberately poisoning their consumers" by selling frozen pizzas that contain transfats, referred to as "toxic carcinogens," by Kate Simpson, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. Simpson is represented by attorney Gregory S. Weston.
In the lawsuit, Simpson claims these brands "squeeze healthier pizzas off supermarket shelves" through their use of the low-cost partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (PHVO), which helps increase their market share.
"Although there are safe, low-cost, and commercially acceptable alternatives to trans fat, including those used in competing brands and even in a few Nestle and CPK [California Pizza Kitchen] products, defendants unfairly elect not to use those substitutes in the Nestle trans fat pizzas in order to increase profit at the expense of consumer health," the lawsuit states. "Now, given its toxic properties few food companies continue to use PHVO. Defendants, however, have decided not to follow their more responsible peers and cease using PHVO, instead placing profits over public health and deliberately poisoning their consumers."
The lawsuit continues: "Artificial trans fat is manufactured via an industrial process called partial hydrogenation, in which hydrogen atoms are added to normal vegetable oil by heating the oil to temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit in the presence of ion donor catalyst metals such as rhodium, ruthenium, and nickel. The resulting product is known as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or PHVO, which is the main source of trans fat in the American diet and used in dangerous quantities in the Nestle trans fat pizzas."
Because it is inexpensive and has a long shelf life, the additive was marketed originally as a "'wonder product'" and used in many processed foods. However, trans fats have recently been determined to be unhealthy, and have subsequently been banned in many countries. Further, the lawsuit notes that the state of California banned trans fats in 88,000 restaurants, and has limited the amount of trans fat used in foods offered on school menus.
The lawsuit also states "Plaintiff lost money as a result of defendants' conduct described herein in that she purchased products that, because they were detrimental to her health, were unfairly offered for sale in violation of California law. Had defendants not violated the law, plaintiff would not have been able to purchase the Nestle trans fat pizzas, or would have only been able to purchase Nestle and CPK pizzas containing safe alternatives to PHVO and trans fat."