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3 major tuna companies settle claims of under-filling tuna cans

tuna cans

The Hamster Factor/Flickr Creative Commons

Three major tuna companies entered into a settlement agreement over claims that they were not filling the cans with enough tuna.

If you ever opened a can of tuna and felt cheated on how little fish there was in the can, you may have been right. Three major tuna companies facing claims that they under-filled tuna cans entered into a civil settlement agreement this week.

Two San Diego tuna companies, Bumble Bee Foods and Tri-Union Seafoods (aka Chicken of the Sea International), along with Pittsburgh tuna giant Starkist Co., were faced with claims that they were filling tuna cans with more water and oil than actual fish.

Consumer complaints initiated a yearlong investigation in 2010 by the California Department of Food and Agriculture that found the tuna retailers had violated federal regulations that set a certain “standard of identity” for canned tuna. It’s basically a balance between how much liquid and tuna is in a can based on how big that can is.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office joined the San Diego and Marin County DAs' offices in filing a civil action.

A Riverside County Superior Court judge has ordered the three companies to together pay more than $3 million in penalties. Judge Sharon J. Waters wrote that because of “the impracticality of providing direct restitution” to the consumers who bought the under-filled tuna cans, the companies have agreed to donate $300,000 worth of canned tuna to California food banks within the next four months.

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