Are Campbell’s Soup and the American Heart Association Frauds?

The nonprofit and the soup company are being sued for allegedly fooling customers with their heart-healthy claims.

The American Heart Association and Campbell's Soup are being sued for fraud for allegedly fooling customers into believing the soups are part of a heart-healthy diet, despite the soups' high sodium content. Photograph via Flickr user Antonio Bonanno.

Another California citizen is targeting major organizations for allegedly bogus health claims: the American Heart Association and Campbell’s Soup.

Kerry O’Shea of California, who filed the lawsuit in New Jersey, claims that the nonprofit heart organization and the soup giant have fooled customers into believing that Campbell’s soups are heart-healthy. The American Heart Association has certified a number of Campbell’s soups with its Heart-Check Mark seal, claiming they meet criteria for heart-healthy food.

According to the lawsuit, however, none of the soups that are American Heart Association-certified meet the organization’s recommended sodium intake. Campbell’s soups contain 820 to 1,025 milligrams of sodium per can and 410 milligrams of sodium per serving. The American Heart Association recommends 140 milligrams of sodium per serving and no more than 1,500 milligrams per day

The lawsuit also claims that the heart organization only gives their certification to food manufacturers who pay a fee. Although the American Heart Association has not commented on the pending litigations, the organization did explain to FoodNavigator-USA that for food products to receive their Heart-Check Mark seal, the manufacturers must pay an “administrative fee, which is only sufficient for the program’s product testing, public information, and program operating expenses.” 

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a number of other cases involving food manufacturers that advertise healthy claims on their packages. Pepsi’s line of Naked Juice, for example, recently settled a $9 million lawsuit, admitting its products weren’t “all natural” despite advertising as such on their bottles.