National Consumers League Says Tomato Sauce Claims Are Deceptive

April 14, 2011
Group claims "made from concentrate" does not equal "vine-ripened tomatoes."

The National Consumers League charged that some tomato sauce-based products from Del Monte, Contadina and Classico are misleadingly labeled because they imply they’re made from fresh ingredients when they actually are made from concentrate.

In a letter to the FDA in April, NCL singled out Del Monte Seafood Cocktail Sauce, Contadina Pizza Sauce, Classico Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce and other products. Labels contain such claims as “made from California vine-ripened tomatoes,” “select 100 percent California tomatoes,” or “only the finest tomatoes” when, in fact, they are reconstituted from industrial tomato concentrate, the consumer group claims.

NCL says that’s deceptive under federal law. NCL also reiterated its 2009 request that FDA require all fruit and vegetable products remanufactured from concentrate to state “from concentrate” on the fronts of food packages.

“Since NCL’s previous complaint to the FDA, the largest producer of tomato sauces, ConAgra Foods, has taken some corrective steps,” the group says. “The company’s Hunt’s brand removed the claim “Packed full of premium vine-ripened tomatoes” from its tomato sauce label, and the words “packed in season” were removed from the company’s Angela Mia Pizza Sauce label. Other misleading claims, however, remain. NCL has written ConAgra … and urged further corrective actions.”

Other products with misleading labels identified by NCL are Francesco Rinaldi Original Traditional Pasta Sauce and Gia Russa Tomato Puree.

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