Foodservice company settles "Kobe beef" lawsuit

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles Superior Court judge approved a settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Barney's Beanery, which allegedly violated California's False Advertising Act by advertising menu items as containing Kobe beef, according to news reports.

As part of the settlement, Barney's Worldwide Inc. agreed to stop using the term "Kobe beef" on its menus unless the items are listed as "American Kobe beef". The chain also agreed to pay up to $220,000 in $10 gift cards to customers who submit claims with proof of purchase of a Kobe beef menu item. Barney's admitted no wrongdoing.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in October 2012. The complaint alleged Barney's falsely claimed to offer Kobe beef items on the restaurant's menus. The complaint stated that availability of Kobe beef was limited to Wagyu beef cattle raised and slaughtered in Kobe, Japan. The US Department of Agriculture banned imports of boneless cuts of fresh Kobe beef after an outbreak of highly contagious foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease. USDA lifted the ban shortly before the lawsuit was filed.

Plaintiffs alleged Barney's violated California's False Advertising Act and the state's Unfair Business Practices Act.

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