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Deceptive Information on Food Packaging: Gorton's, Inc.

The following is intended to be used only as an example of misleading information on a food label. If you feel that you have been harmed by deceptive information on a food product's packaging, you may wish to speak with a consumer fraud lawyer. Contact us to find out if you have a case.

Gorton's, Inc., of Gloucester, Massachusetts, received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) telling the company they weren't in compliance with the administration's labeling requirements for nutrient information on the package of "Gorton's Beer Batter Crispy Battered Fish Fillets."

While the front panel of the product indicates no trans fat, the package label does not alert consumers that its Fish Fillets have significant levels of sodium, total fat and saturated fat.

The FDA letter was reportedly sent overnight and received by the company's president and chief executive officer Feb. 22, 2010. Nutrition labels indicating more than 13 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, and more than 480 mg of sodium must display a warning statement "immediately adjacent to the claim" of the product, according to the FDA.

Gorton's fish fillets, which exceed these maximums, contain:

  • 19 grams of total fat
  • 4.5 grams of saturated fat
  • 680 mg. of sodium

The letter was made public in March 2010. It asked Gorton's how it intended to comply with the FDA regulations.

FDA Seeks to Correct Nutrition Labels

Margaret Hamburg, MD, Food and Drug Commissioner of the FDA, reportedly said the agency is requiring accurate nutrient labeling on food products and making it a top priority. Dr. Hamburg wrote an open letter to the food industry, emphasizing the importance of being accurate and not misleading in their labels.

She said such an emphasis is especially important now, considering how rampant obesity and diet-related diseases are in this country. She also criticized the inappropriate use of the term "healthy" when such a word has strict regulatory definitions.

Gorton's Background

Gorton's was established in 1849 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The company prides itself on what it calls The Gorton's Way, a philosophy emphasizing the "right way to do business and about always providing our consumers with the safest and best quality products."

The company has a research and development department and a technical innovation center with large research and development kitchens, a raw material inspection laboratory, and a food safety-testing laboratory. Gorton's sends its trainers worldwide to ensure its seafood suppliers meet the company's quality and safety specifications. The government requires ten quality checkpoints. Gorton's Internet site proudly states it has more than 50.

Gorton's also touts its commitment to the environment. They explain they:

  • Have had a long-time commitment to sustainable fishing practices
  • Emphasize reducing the environmental impact of their work and products
  • Support environmentally responsible management of natural resources
  • Proactively make decisions to protect the long-term health of surrounding ecosystems
  • Purchase from environmentally responsible suppliers
  • Support scientific research
  • Work with national, state, and local organizations to promote responsible practices
  • Emphasize seafood sustainability
  • Use energy efficient systems for lighting, water usage, and reduction of greenhouse gases

The company, based in Gloucester, Massachusetts, has other locations in Brunswick, Georgia; Redmond and Bellingham, Washington; Cleveland, Ohio; and Montreal, Canada. Its products are available in retail stores and online. In October 2001, it became a subsidiary of Nippon Suisan (USA).

Have You Been a Victim of Misleading Product Information?

If you feel you have been harmed or deceived by misleading information on a food product's packaging, you may wish to contact an attorney. Our consumer fraud attorneys are committed to holding companies responsible when they mislead consumers. Contact us for more information.