Lawsuit Claims Target’s Good and Gather Sauces Contain Hidden Preservatives

target good and gather pasta sauce

Target Accused of Misleading Consumers with "Natural" Pasta Sauce Labels

Always check the ingredients list. That message is at the heart of a new lawsuit against Target, which accuses the retailer of falsely advertising its Good and Gather pasta sauces brand by adorning the labels with fresh veggies and statements saying they contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, when in fact the sauces do have artificial preservatives, according to the claims.

The lawsuit, filed in California, alleges the company’s ‘packaging, labeling, and advertising scheme is intended to give consumers the impression that they are buying a premium product that is free from preservatives”, while in fact they’re made with citric acid —  a synthetic preservative derived from heavy chemical processing

Fresh look, questionable ingredients?

Jennifer Carbine filed the proposed class action lawsuit after buying Good and Gather Marinara, Good and Gather Tomato Basil, and Good and Gather Organic Three Cheese, which all had the “No Artificial Colors, Flavors, or Preservatives” label. However, when she checked the ingredients list, she found they all contained citric acid.

She contends she never would have bought the sauces, or would have paid far less for them, had she known they had manufactured citric acid included, which has been linked with joint pain, swelling and stiffness, muscular and stomach pain, as well as shortness of breath, the lawsuit states.

Transparency in food labeling

Carbine says in the lawsuit that like many other consumers in the US, she tries to buy food free from artificial preservatives and other additives for the sake of her health. She said company’s have a responsibility to accurately brand and market their food so consumers can rely on claims and trust what they are buying. 

As the National Library of Medicine studies show, customers are willing to pay more for healthier options, and when they do pay more and end up finding out they’ve been tricked, they suffer economic injury, as Carbine’s lawsuit states.

She says because of the inaccurate marketing, she and others who bought the sauce are entitled to damages and restitution.

FDA warns companies about citric acid use

The type of citric acid contained in Target’s Good and Gather pasta sauce is derived from heavy chemical processing, the lawsuit says, and is commercially produced and is manufactured using a type of black mold called Aspergillus niger, as well as chemical solvents.

Over the years, the Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to companies stating that certain products labeled as “natural” are misbranded because they contain artificial citric acid as an ingredient. 

In 2001, the FDA sent Hirzel Canning Company a warning letter regarding its canned tomato products, which the agency said could not bear the “All Natural” claim on the label because they contained citric acid. 

The same year, it sent a similar letter to Oak Tree Dairy Farm regarding its “Oaktree Real Brewed Iced Tea,” “Oaktree Fruit Punch,” and “Oaktree All Natural Lemonade” products, saying it too couldn’t call them natural due to containing citric acid.

A growing trend of false “natural” claims

Consumers are increasingly calling out companies for false natural claims. Recently, we’ve been following a consumer lawsuit filed against Aldi, accusing the company of adding a blend of undisclosed ingredients including manufactured chemical compounds to its peaches in “100 percent fruit juice.” 

Ricola was also recently hit with a class action lawsuit for allegedly falsely claiming its herbs are from Switzerland. While the packaging tells of herbs from the Swiss Alps, the reality is that the herbs come from far less snowy location - the fields of India. 

Meanwhile, Bakery and cafe giant Panera is also facing heat from customers who say the bread maker is using “false and deceptive practices” selling its Sprouted Grain Bagel Flat.

Carbine wants to represent California consumers in her lawsuit against Target, where she is alleging violations of the state’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, as well as breach of express warranty.  

The plaintiff and proposed class are represented by Michael T. Houchin of Crosner Legal, P.C.

The Target Good and Gather pasta sauce false advertising class action lawsuit is Carbine v. Target Corporation, Case No. 2:24-cv-03721 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.



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