Whole Foods is sued over ‘No Antibiotics, Ever’ beef claim

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A Whole Foods Market store is seen in Santa Monica, California, U.S. March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/

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Aug 23 (Reuters) – Whole Foods Market was sued on Tuesday by three consumers and an animal welfare nonprofit, in a lawsuit accusing unit Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) of marketing mistakenly beef with the slogan “No antibiotics, ever”. “

The proposed class action lawsuit says recent independent lab tests found Whole Foods beef contained antibiotics and other pharmaceutical residues, meaning the cattle had been treated with antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals.

Peymon Khaghani, Jason Rose, Sara Safari and the nonprofit Farm Forward said it creates ‘serious health risks’ by contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that consumers end up ingesting which can cause infections that cannot be treated with existing antibiotics.

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Whole Foods markets at least 42 antibiotic-free beef products and charges “substantial” price premiums based on that claim, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif.

Neither Whole Foods nor Amazon immediately responded to requests for comment.

Farm Forward said its mission includes efforts to “promote mindful food choices, reduce farm animal suffering, and advance sustainable agriculture.”

The complaint states that lab tests in 2021 and 2022 on meat samples from six Whole Foods locations in Chicago, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Virginia “revealed the presence of pharmaceutical residues, including antibiotic residues “.

He also said that after learning from Farm Forward of the results in April, Whole Foods chief executive John Mackey unsubscribed from the association’s mailing list “after serving as a board member and recipient of the mailing list for over a decade”.

Mackey is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs want Whole Foods to fix the way it markets its beef and pay unspecified compensatory and punitive damages to buyers who overpaid.

The case is Safari et al v Whole Foods Market Inc, US District Court, Central District of California, No. 22-01562.

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Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; edited by Richard Pullin

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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