After Kona coffee growers called for Safeway, Inc. to comply with Hawaiian
regulations on labeling Kona coffee, a California resident filed a putative
class action against the company in federal court, alleging that its Safeway
Select™ “Kona Blend” coffee contains “very little Kona coffee bean content.”
Thurston v. Safeway, Inc., No. 11-04285 (N.D. Cal., filed August 30,
2011). Seeking to certify nationwide or statewide classes, the plaintiff calls
the company’s labeling false and misleading and contends that she “did not receive the ‘Kona Blend’ she bargained for when she purchased Safeway’s Kona Blend Coffee, and has lost money as a result in the form of paying a premium for Kona Blend coffee” instead of paying less for a non-Kona or low-Kona coffee alternative.

The plaintiff alleges common law fraud, violations of various consumer fraud
statutes and restitution based on quasi contract or unjust enrichment. She
requests restitution, compensatory and punitive damages, an injunction
to stop Safeway from “advertising its products misleadingly, in violation of
California’s Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law and other applicable laws
and regulations,” attorney’s fees and costs. According to a news source, the
Safeway product costs $8.99 a pound, while pure Kona coffee can sell for $25
for 8 ounces. Hawaii requires Kona coffee labels to specify what percentage
comes from the Kona bean and whether it was grown in the state. See West
Hawaii Today, August 6, 2011.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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