Mom’s $5 Million Lawsuit Targets ‘Toxic’ Ingredients in Commonly Sold Frozen Pizzas

Katie Simpson, a California mother, noted trans fat as ingredients in commonly sold pizzas, and says the frozen pies have PHVO, a food additive banned worldwide.

Something to think about the next time you're buying groceries in Iowa City: you can't always trust the labels.

For example, I noticed the other day shopping for medicine in Iowa City that a generic of Benadryl, containing .25 mg tablets of Diphenhydramine, was marketed as an anti allergy drug. From the same company, a "Sleep Aid," was sold nearby. The main ingredient? .25 mg tablets of Diphenydramine.

Through the magic of labeling, a beneficial side effect is turned into the main cause.

Meanwhile, a California mother has taken issue with frozen pizzas sold at Target, Walmart and other local stores. And she's taking this realization that labels lie perhaps a little too far.

Maybe I just knew frozen pizzas were bad for me without reading the label.

Katie Simpson bought frozen pizzas about five times in the past year, including a California Pizza Kitchen Personal Pizza Barbeque Chicken and the same maker’s Crispy Thin Crust Pizza Signature Pepperoni.

But when she learned they contained trans fat—an ingredient linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer—she felt as if she were sold poison.

That’s the argument being made in a $5 million federal class-action lawsuit that claims Nestle—makers of DiGiorno, Stouffer’s and California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas —is “placing profits over public health” by failing to remove trans fat.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego on behalf of Simpson, a mother of two young children. Her address isn’t given, but she lives in San Diego County.

“The most frequent of Ms. Simpson’s purchases of Nestle Trans Fat Pizzas were at the Target located at 2911 Jamacha Road” near Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego, said the suit [attached as a PDF].

The lawsuit says the frozen pizzas in question shouldn’t contain a toxic food additive banned all over the world, said Greg Weston, an attorney for the plaintiff.

California has banned trans fat in foods served in local restaurants,
 but no bans on trans fat exist for packaged foods. The cities of New York
 and Philadelphia are among local governments that have enacted bans against trans fat in restaurant food.

Weston said the suit seeks all monies Nestle has ever made from frozen

In a statement, Nestle said it will vigorously defend itself against all “baseless allegations,’’ saying its pizza products are in strict compliance
with FDA and USDA regulations.

According to California Pizza Kitchen, the case applies only to frozen pizzas, not to restaurants bearing that name.

No hearing date has been set in the case, which has been assigned to 
U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino. No jury trial has been demanded.

—City News Service contributed to this report.


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