Beef Companies Deceptive “Product of US” Labeling Class Action

US law requires that beef be labeled as to its country of origin (the Country of Origin Law, or COOL). This class action alleges that Tyson Foods, Inc., Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., JBA USA Food Company, and National Beef Packing Company, LLC have been violating this law by labeling some beef as a product of the US when it did not originate with domestic cattle. 

The class for this action is all consumers in the US who bought the products of the companies named above, during the statute of limitations period, for personal use and not for resale or distribution. There is also a New Mexico Subclass for consumers in New Mexico who bought the products in that state.

When a consumer sees a label on a package of beef saying “Product of the US” or some similar designation, the complaint says, the consumer assumes that the animal was born, raised and slaughtered in the US. However, the complaint alleges, since 2015, the defendant companies in this case have been putting this designation on packages of beef that originated outside the US and were only brought here for slaughter or finishing.

How does this happen? The complaint alleges, “The USDA counts imported live cattle and converts imported beef into a live cattle equivalent. The agency uses a factor of 592 pounds to determine the live cattle equivalent.”

The complaint claims that the defendant companies in this case “now control about 6.9 million cattle in the US market.” Only Texas, which controls about 12.6 million cattle, controls more.

According to the complaint, consumers prefer to buy beef produced in the US out of concern for quality, health, food safety, animal welfare, and environmentally sound production methods. But the meat the defendant companies market as products of the US contains meat from several sources, the complaint claims: domestically born and raised cattle, imported live cattle, and imported beef. 

The complaint reproduces images of different cuts of beef as well as ground beef in packages that say “Product of U.S.A.,” “Product of United States,” “USDA Choice,” and the like. The complaint points also to Costco packaging, where, it says, “the absence of country of origin taken together[] with ‘USDA Choice’ or other grading label, are intended to … portray to consumers that they are purchasing a ‘Product of the United States’…”

The complaint alleges breach of warranty, violations of the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act, and unjust enrichment.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Beef Companies Deceptive “Product of US” Labeling Complaint

February 5, 2020

US law requires that beef be labeled as to its country of origin (the Country of Origin Law, or COOL). This class action alleges that Tyson Foods, Inc., Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., JBA USA Food Company, and National Beef Packing Company, LLC have been violating this law by labeling some beef as a product of the US when it did not originate with domestic cattle. Note that the complaint (as filed on PACER) is missing its page 2.

beef_companies_22product_of_us22_labeling_compl.pdf

Case Event History

Beef Companies Deceptive “Product of US” Labeling Complaint

February 5, 2020

US law requires that beef be labeled as to its country of origin (the Country of Origin Law, or COOL). This class action alleges that Tyson Foods, Inc., Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., JBA USA Food Company, and National Beef Packing Company, LLC have been violating this law by labeling some beef as a product of the US when it did not originate with domestic cattle. Note that the complaint (as filed on PACER) is missing its page 2.

beef_companies_22product_of_us22_labeling_compl.pdf
Tags: Breach of warranty, Country of Origin, Deceptive Labels