Kraft, Sara Lee settle hot dog dispute out of court

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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CHICAGO – On Sept. 8, the federal court battle over who makes America's tastiest wieners was settled. Representatives of Sara Lee's Ball Park and Kraft Foods' Oscar Mayer hot dogs both charged the other exaggerated their claims about being No. 1 in the two-year legal fight. Both companies announced on Sept. 8 they settled out of court — less than a month after their civil trial began.

"Sara Lee and Kraft have agreed to a settlement of their dispute, which was determined to be the best course of action for both parties. Sara Lee is pleased with the outcome and looks forward to continuing to produce and market its leading hot dog brand, Ball Park," the spokesman told MEATPOULTRY.com.

Although terms of their settlement were confidential, an AP report said a Sara Lee spokesman claimed neither side paid money to the other — plus neither company was changing its marketing practices.

The legal steps began in 2009 when Sara Lee filed a lawsuit, singling out Oscar Mayer ads claiming its dogs beat Ball Park franks in a national taste test. Sara Lee argued the tests were flawed.

Later in 2009, Kraft filed a countersuit accusing Sara Lee of running ads for Ball Parks with the tagline "America's Best Franks" based on an award from ChefsBest, a food-judging organization based in San Francisco.

Kraft further claimed its Oscar Mayer Jumbo Beef Franks are "100 percent pure beef." Sara Lee said the claim is untrue, that it cast aspersions on Ball Park franks and damaged their sales.

Kraft countered that the 100 percent beef tag was never intended to suggest there weren't other ingredients – such as water and salt. The company said it meant to convey that the meat used was all beef.
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