Aldi’s fresh Atlantic salmon products are not sustainably sourced as advertised but instead farmed industrially through unsustainable, environmentally destructive and inhumane practices, a proposed class action alleges.
The 28-page lawsuit claims that although Aldi’s “Simple. Sustainable. Seafood.” claims represent the grocer’s Atlantic salmon in a light favorable to consumers looking for products sourced with environmental and animal welfare standards in mind, the fish, in reality, is sourced from methods that “shock the conscience.”
For its part, Illinois-based Aldi has been able to sell more Atlantic salmon than it would have absent its “false and misleading” representations of the products, the complaint says. The lawsuit charges Aldi intended for consumers to rely on its “sustainable” claims for the Atlantic salmon and has deceived buyers about the nature and sourcing of the products, in violation of state laws.
In evaluating “sustainably sourced” food products, consumers hold the minimal use of hormones and drugs, impact on the environment, and welfare of the animals as three of the most important considerations, particularly when it comes to sustainable aquaculture, the case relays. According to the lawsuit, Aldi’s “sustainable” Atlantic salmon is wholly and misleadingly misrepresented by the defendant.
For one, the Atlantic salmon products are sourced, at least in part, from Chile, the case claims, noting that salmon are not native to the country but instead “raised in, and sourced from, large industrial fish farms known for their unsustainable production methods.” Salmon farms in Chile, the lawsuit says, utilize an ecologically dangerous method of salmon production called “net pen aquaculture,” whereby thousands of fish are crowded into cages, or “pens,” in natural waterways:
Per the case, net pen aquaculture is considered to be a “high risk” form of fish farming in that, among other problems, the method allows for the free exchange of waste, chemicals, parasites and disease between the pens and the surrounding environment.
According to the lawsuit, to survive in these environments, salmon must be introduced to “large amounts of toxins and pesticides.” Testing of Aldi’s Atlantic salmon, i.e. the finished product meant to be consumed by humans, has revealed the presence of ethoxyquin, a toxin routinely used as a preservative in industrial fish feed, the suit alleges.
“The salmon feed ingredients used by Aldi’s suppliers pose other severe environmental risks,” the complaint goes on. “In particular, Aldi’s suppliers’ use of wild-caught fish in salmon feed, as is routine in the industry, contributes to the collapse of wild fish stock and the aquatic ecosystem, compounding the environmental consequences of Aldi’s salmon products.”
The environmental impact of industrial salmon farming aside, the conditions under which Aldi’s products are raised inflict unnecessary suffering on the fish, the suit says:
“The extremely crowded and unsanitary environments of net pens are nothing like the natural environment in which salmon live in the wild. Scientists characterize these crowded production methods as ‘stressful high-density conditions’ that far exceed what salmon would experience in their natural habitats. Salmon in these crowded environments become highly aggressive and cause harm to each other as a result. These crowded conditions inevitably lead to rampant sea lice infestations, which results in poor animal welfare.”
Aldi’s “sustainable” representations are material to consumers and deceive and/or are likely to deceive the public, the proposed class action alleges, stressing that ordinary buyers have no means with which to discover the true nature and sourcing of the salmon by looking at the products’ packaging.
The lawsuit looks to represent all persons in New York who bought Aldi’s “Simple. Sustainable. Seafood” Atlantic salmon during a to-be-defined period. The case also proposes to cover a “subclass” of Aldi Atlantic salmon buyers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
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