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COUNTYWIDE FOCUS

Snack Firm to Pay $25,000 Settlement

September 15, 1993|JEFF McDONALD

A Washington state-based food company agreed Tuesday to pay $25,000 to settle a civil complaint alleging it cheated customers by misrepresenting the amount of cheese inside its lunch packages, the Ventura County district attorney's office said.

Little Brook Foods of Bellevue, Wash., which markets the "Lunch-to-Go" and "Kid's Lunch-to-Go" snack items, agreed to the settlement without admitting any wrongdoing, said Deputy Dist. Atty. David M. Fairweather.

The Ventura County Department of Weights and Measures began investigating the company after a 1992 Ventura County grand jury member complained about receiving less cheese than was advertised on the box, Fairweather said.

Inspectors studied 245 "Lunch-to-Go" packages from 11 different locations in Ventura County and found each one contained only four pieces of Laughing Cow cheese when the box said six pieces were included, Fairweather said.

The "Kid's Lunch-to-Go" snacks were said to contain four pieces of cheese but actually contained only three, he said.

State inspectors followed up the Ventura case with investigations in Orange and San Diego counties and found another 1,469 "Lunch-to-Go" products that were similarly misleading, Fairweather said.

The Ventura County district attorney's office filed a civil complaint against the company in January alleging false advertising and unfair business practices.

The $25,000 settlement includes investigation costs incurred by the county Department of Weights and Measures. The company also agreed to an injunction that would prevent it from future labeling violations, Fairweather said.

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