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May 26, 2019

Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, Starkist sued over claims of ‘dolphin-safe’ tuna product

May 15, 2019
In this file photo, cans of tuna fish are displayed in a grocery store in 2006. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and StarKist are being sued by American consumers alleging the trio of tuna brands misled customers into believing they net their product through “dolphin-safe fishing practices.”

A class action lawsuit filed Monday with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco accuses all three companies of relying on fishing techniques that kill or harm dolphins – as opposed to costlier options that are safe for the underwater mammals, Reuters reported.

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It additionally alleges the packaged-tuna brands deceived its customers about the nature of its practices with “dolphin-safe” labels, which is a violation of the law in several states including New York, New Jersey, California, and Florida.

The consumers also claimed StarKist broke “federal racketeering law through its alleged dealing with foreign fishing companies,” according to the suit, which seeks refunds for costumer’s nationwide who’ve purchased tuna over the past four years or premiums paid for dolphin-safe claims.

According to court documents, the companies have made dolphin-safe claims since 1990, when the federal Dolphin Protection Consumer act barred the false labeling of tuna products.

Concern about dolphin safety “makes tuna fish consumers no different from Hindus attributing zero value to animal products, or vegetarians attributing zero values to meat, fish and poultry” according to the complaint.

StarKist in a statement said it does not discuss pending litigation but that it would not buy tuna “caught in association with dolphins.” It also slammed “indiscriminate fishing methods” that harm dolphins as well as the tuna.

It’s not clear how the plaintiffs intend to prove the labels on the packaged tuna were misleading.

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