Whole Foods Market is being accused in a lawsuit of falsely marketing beef with the slogan “No Antibiotics, Ever.”
The suit was brought by three consumers and an animal welfare nonprofit and filed on Tuesday in the federal court in Santa Ana, California.
According to the proposed class action, recent independent laboratory testing found that Whole Foods’ beef contained antibiotic and other pharmaceutical residue, meaning that cattle had been treated with antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals.
Peymon Khaghani, Jason Rose, Sara Safari and the nonprofit Farm Forward said this creates “serious health risks” by contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that consumers eventually ingest.
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The concern is that it may cause infections that cannot be treated with existing antibiotics.
Whole Foods markets sells at least 42 beef products as free of antibiotics, and charges “substantial” price premiums based on that claim, according to the complaint filed.
Neither Whole Foods nor Amazon immediately responded to requests for comment.
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Farm Forward said its mission includes efforts to “promote conscientious food choices, reduce farmed animal suffering, and advance sustainable agriculture.”
The plaintiffs want Whole Foods to correct how it markets its beef, and pay unspecified compensatory and punitive damages to shoppers who overpaid.
Whole Foods is a unit of Amazon.com.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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