FOOD

Nestle, California Pizza Kitchen Are ‘Poisoning' Consumers, Woman Claims In $5 Million Lawsuit

01/28/2013 03:21 pm ET | Updated Jan 29, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen and Nestle are killing us one frozen pizza at a time, according to one woman.

Katie Simpson is suing California Pizza Kitchen and Nestle in the California Southern District Court on grounds that the companies are “deliberately poisoning their consumers" with frozen pizzas available in grocery stores, according to court documents. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in the companies' "trans fat pizzas" is a “toxic carcinogen,” Simpson claims in her $5 million class-action lawsuit.

Nestle’s line of grocery store pizza brands includes California Pizza Kitchen, DiGiornos and Stouffer's. Simpson alleges that Nestle’s insistence on using trans fats in the brand's pizzas, despite available alternatives, makes it impossible for other, healthier supermarket pizza to compete. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is relatively low-cost, permitting Nestle to keep the lion’s share of the store-bought pizza marketplace, the plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit.

"Nestle recently received a copy of the lawsuit, and we are in the process of reviewing it," Edie Burge of Nestle's Corporate and Brand Affairs wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "We will vigorously defend ourselves against all baseless allegations. All of our pizza products are in strict compliance with both FDA and USDA regulations."

California Pizza Kitchen did not return a comment to HuffPost by press time.

Trans fats can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease, ABC News reports. Saturated and trans fats have also been linked to Alzheimer's in at least one study. Simpson's lawsuit claims that the trans fat used in Nestle's pizzas causes cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, breast prostate and colorectal cancer, as well as cognitive decline.

Although California has banned the use of trans fat in restaurants in 2008, Nestle can still use them in its pizzas that show up on supermarket shelves.

Denmark was the first country to pass bans regulating the sale of trans-fat food, followed by Switzerland, according to CBC News. New York City has also banned the use of trans fats in all restaurants within the city limits.

Other cities, like Cleveland, have attempted to institute a ban on the use of trans fats in prepared foods only to have it deemed unconstitutional, WKYC News reports.

California Pizza Kitchen and Nestle are not the first major food companies to be hit with lawsuits over trans fats. In 2005, McDonald’s paid $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit about trans fat used in its cooking oils, Fox News reports.

More recently, a class-action lawsuit claimed that Costco was misleading its customers with its Kirkland Signature Brand Potato Chips by stating that the product contains “0 grams Trans Fat.” Although the chips are free of trans fat, they contain other unhealthy ingredients, including 13 grams of fat. An Illinois court also recently dismissed a lawsuit against Quaker Oats, which claimed that its use of the terms “hearty healthy” and “wholesome” were misleading consumers because some of the company's products contain trans fats.

Hat tip: Courthouse News.

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