San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M Dumanis has announced the multi-million dollar settlement of a civil consumer protection case against three tuna canning giants.
Bumble Bee Foods, Chicken of the Sea International and StarKist agreed to an injunction to follow the federal packing standards for the fill of tuna in canned tuna products, and agreed to pay USD 3.3 million collectively in civil penalties, costs and other relief.
The case was opened by San Diego County District Attorney’s office together with Marin County and Riverside County District Attorney’s Offices based on a 2010 investigation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture into the amount of tuna in cans.
Canned tuna is often packed in water, oil and vegetable broth, and the amount of tuna relative to additional ingredients is determined by a federal “standard of fill.”
However, the investigation found the big three companies did not meet the required amount of tuna in cans they had packed with vegetable broth and added flavours.
"The California Department of Food and Agriculture has a division of measurement standards, and they look at short weights, among other things," San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas said. "Someone had an anecdotal feeling there was less tuna in cans, and they looked into it."