Aldi’s motion to dismiss a seafood sustainability false claims class-action lawsuit has been rejected for a second time.
On 17 May, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois rejected Aldi's motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit brought by Jessica Rawson in May 2021 alleging the retailer made deceptive sustainability marketing claims about its fresh Atlantic salmon products. Rawson is represented by Richman Law and Policy, which has brought several similar lawsuits against seafood suppliers, including Cooke and Red Lobster.
Rawson has alleged Aldi's Atlantic salmon is sourced, at least in part, from Chile, which has an “avoid” recommendation from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch sustainability ratings system, Richman Law said in a press release. Chile’s net-pen aquaculture systems grow thousands of fish in cages in natural waterways, which Richman Law claimed is an ecologically dangerous practice.
“Because net pens are directly connected to the broader marine environment, pollutants, diseases and escaped salmon may spread from the farms into the environment. As cited in the complaint, one scientific paper notes that the ‘risks of damage to wild salmon populations, ecosystems, and society are large’,” Richman said.
The court’s decision found Rawson’s claim that Aldi's use of "sustainable" was misleading to be plausible, even though Aldi’s fresh Atlantic salmon has Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification.
Representatives for Richman Law did not immediately respond to a request for comment from SeafoodSource. A representative of the Global Seafood Alliance, which operates the BAP program, said the organization had no comment.
In February 2022, a separate court rejected Aldi’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by GMO/Toxin Free USA alleging Aldi was deceptive in its claims of sustainability for its fresh Atlantic salmon products. Filed in January 2021, that lawsuit alleges Aldi's use of the phrase "Simple. Sustainable. Seafood." on its Atlantic salmon products “leads consumers to believe that the salmon was farmed in accordance with high environmental and animal welfare standards, but in reality, the salmon are sourced unsustainably,” GMO/Toxin Free USA said in a press release.
Separately, a judge in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has not yet ruled on Red Lobster’s motion to dismiss in a similar lawsuit brought by Richman Law.
Filed in June 2021, the class-action complaint alleges that Red Lobster’s farmed shrimp and Maine lobster are not sustainably sourced, as the company claims they are. Instead, the restaurant chain’s shrimp is sourced from “industrial shrimp farms that do not employ the highest environmental or animal welfare standards,” the complaint stated, and the restaurant chain’s Maine lobster is sourced from suppliers that use environmentally destructive practices that threaten endangered populations of North American right whales, according to the complaint.
The judge in that case has extended the Red Lobster’s motion to dismiss until later in May.
Photo courtesy of GMO/Toxin Free USA