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Local Food Wholesaler Settles “Vermont” Labeling Claims With Attorney General

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-2153

October 29, 2008 - Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office has settled charges that Bove’s of Vermont, Inc. mislabeled its pasta sauces and other food items as “Vermont” products, when in fact they were made outside Vermont from ingredients whose geographic origin was either also out-of-state or unknown. The settlement requires Bove’s to donate $50,000 worth of food to the Vermont Foodbank and pay a civil penalty of $5,000.

According to court documents until the spring of 2008, the Burlington-based Bove’s sold several types of jarred pasta sauces and other products under the “Bove’s of Vermont” label. While Bove’s sauces were originally made in Vermont, beginning in 1999 or 2000 all of the company’s packaged sauces were made in Rochester, New York. Similarly, of the primary ingredients in Bove’s products, only one type of cheese was made in Vermont, while tomatoes were sourced from California, and the geographic origin of all other ingredients was unknown to the company.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Rule (CF) 120 prohibits the use of a company name containing the word “Vermont” to advertise or market a food product made outside of Vermont or containing non-Vermont primary ingredients, unless the product label clearly discloses the out-of-state connection. No such disclosures appeared on Bove’s products for two years after the rule went into effect in early 2006.

CF 120 was issued to ensure that consumers are not misled about food products’ geographic origin, after a professional survey was undertaken to determine what consumers understand when looking at “Vermont”-labeled food products, and after extensive public input. A violation of the rule is considered an unfair and deceptive trade practice under the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act.

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