Orange County District Attorney Settles Consumer Protection Lawsuit

For Immediate Release
November 8th, 2002
Contact: Deputy District Attorney
Andrea L. Burke
(714) 347-8739

Orange County District Attorney Settles Consumer Protection Lawsuit

SANTA ANA – November 8, 2002 – Today the Consumer Protection Unit of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office joined with the Offices of the District Attorneys of San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Monterey, and Fresno Counties in announcing a joint settlement of a lawsuit brought against Sorrento Lactalis, Inc., a major manufacturer and distributor of specialty cheeses.  The company sells products under various brand names, including Precious, Mountain Farms, Olympia, Dairy Fresh, Santa Barbara, and Maria Masconi.

The multi-county lawsuit alleges that some of the products in question were under the marked weight by as much as 12% due to a lack of overall quality control.  As a result, the net weight statements on some of the product labels were inaccurate and the volume of cheese in some of the packages was inconsistent.  Sorrento Lactalis, Inc. cooperated fully in the investigation of its weighing and labeling practices. In addition, the company purchased new machinery to better control the filling process and made changes in its quality control and quality assurance programs to prevent future violations.

Without admitting wrongdoing, the defendant has agreed to the terms of a permanent injunction and final judgment designed to ensure compliance with various provisions of the California Business and Professions Code that apply to weight and labeling requirements.  As part of the settlement, the defendants have been ordered to pay $303,829.51 in civil penalties and investigative costs.  The civil complaint and stipulated final judgment were filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court on November 7, 2002.

The case was initiated and investigated by inspectors from the California Department of Food and Agriculture Division of Measurement Standards in 19 counties.  Sorrento Lactalis, Inc. is based in Buffalo, New York. Two out of nine plants are located in California.