Thank you to everyone who helped contribute to this investigation. At this point, attorneys working with ClassAction.org have decided to close their investigation into this matter. If you have questions regarding your rights, please reach out to an attorney in your area. The information below was posted when the investigation began and exists for reference only.
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At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
Anyone who purchased Smithfield meat products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether Smithfield made false and misleading statements about worker safety and the precarity of the U.S. meat supply to maintain and boost sales during the coronavirus crisis. As part of their investigation, the attorneys need to speak to individuals who purchased Smithfield’s products during or after March 2020 to help determine whether a class action lawsuit can be filed over the issue.
How Can a Class Action Help?
A class action lawsuit could help consumers get back some of the money they paid for Smithfield’s meat products. It could also force the company to cease and correct any false statements or misrepresentations.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether a class action lawsuit can be filed on behalf of consumers who purchased Smithfield Food’s meat products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They’re looking into whether Smithfield made false and misleading statements regarding the U.S. meat supply and treatment of plant workers to maintain and boost sales during the public health crisis. If the company is suspected of selling its products under false claims, consumers may have the chance to get some money back.
What Statements Are Being Looked Into?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are looking into public statements made by Smithfield regarding a possible meat shortage and measures the company took to keep workers safe as COVID-19 ran rampant in its South Dakota plant.
Possible Meat Shortage
In April 2020, Smithfield issued a press release in response to the closure of its Sioux Falls plant, one of the largest pork processing plants in the U.S. The statement included a quote from the company’s CEO cautioning that the plant closure was pushing the country “perilously close to the edge in the terms of our meat supply.”
Despite issuing a dire warning about a possible U.S. meat shortage, Smithfield, in the very same month, reportedly sent more than 9,000 tons of pork to China, with the New York Times calling this one of Smithfield’s “highest monthly export totals to that market in the past three years.” Market research data cited by Reuters also saw Smithfield’s pork exports to China increase by 90% between January and August when compared to the same period in 2017. Even Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Corey Booker (D-N.J.) opened an investigation into Smithfield and other meatpackers after reports surfaced that the companies had exported a record amount of food to China while “threatening the American public with impending meat shortages and jacking up prices.”
It’s possible that Smithfield’s statements regarding a possible meat shortage in the U.S. led shoppers to stock up on pork products sold at dramatically increased prices.
In fact, one market study comparing sales between March and July 2020 to the previous year found sales had increased for breakfast sausage by 33%, for bacon by 29%, for ground pork by 27%, for fresh pork by 20% and for ham by 20%.
In October 2020, Smithfield published a page on its website outlining company safety measures – which reportedly include temperature checks and staggered shifts – and touting its workers as heroes. The company even went so far as to take out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times to combat “false narratives” and “misinformation” from critics and to reiterate that aggressive measures have been implemented to keep the “Smithfield family” safe.
Some workers, however, are telling a different story. In one BBC report, claims surfaced of crowded cafeterias and locker rooms, workers with elevated temperatures being allowed entrance into the plant, distribution of what essentially amount to hair nets as masks, and bribes for those willing to work in unsafe conditions.
Had consumers known of the true risks posed to workers at Smithfield’s plant, they may not have purchased the company’s products. If Smithfield is believed to have made misleading statements to increase sales and protect its image, they could be held accountable under certain unfair competition and false advertising laws.
How a Class Action Lawsuit Can Help
A class action lawsuit could force Smithfield to correct any statements or representations found to be false or misleading. It could also give consumers the chance to get back some of the money they spent on Smithfield’s meat products during the COVID-19 crisis.