Nestle Faces $5 Million Lawsuit Over Trans Fats in Frozen Pizzas

San Diego woman alleges that Nestle is "placing profits over public health."

ByABC News
January 30, 2013, 10:29 AM

Jan. 30, 2013 — -- A $5 million battle over frozen pizza could heat up a California courtroom this week when a woman takes on Nestle over the company's pizza brands, claiming they are a danger to public health.

Nestle's DiGiorno, Stouffer's and California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas are under fire in a new class-action lawsuit brought by Katie Simpson of San Diego. In the lawsuit, filed Jan. 21, she argues that the company is "placing profits over public health" by not removing trans fat from its pizzas.

"Katie has two young children and she likes to make pizza for them, and all kids love pizza," her attorney, Greg Watson, told "Good Morning America."

"It shouldn't have a toxic food additive that's been banned all around the world."

California, New York City, Philadelphia and other local governments have banned trans fat in foods served in restaurants. Trans fat raises bad cholesterol and lowers the good kind of cholesterol.

But there are no bans on trans fat in packaged foods. The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture only require that companies list all the ingredients on the label.

When Simpson was buying her favorite frozen pizzas, she says, she had no idea they contained what the suit calls "a toxic carcinogen."

"We want all the money they have ever made from the frozen pizzas," Watson said.

This is not the first trans fat lawsuit. McDonald's paid $8.5 million to settle two lawsuits in 2005 alleging the company misled consumers about trans fat levels in its food.

Some lawyers wondered whether this latest suit will be tossed out of court.

"It's clear that these companies haven't broken any rules," ABC News legal analyst Sunny Hostin said.

Nestle, a Swiss multinational food company, said it is looking at the $5 million suit.

"Nestle recently received a copy of the lawsuit, and we are in the process of reviewing it," the company said in a statement. "We will vigorously defend ourselves against all baseless allegations. All of our pizza products are in strict compliance with both FDA and USDA regulations."

California Pizza Kitchen released a statement saying that the case does not apply to the restaurants that bear the same name, but to the pizzas purchased at supermarkets.

"This lawsuit does not pertain to California Pizza Kitchen restaurants," the company said in a statement. "It pertains only to several lines of frozen pizzas manufactured and distributed by Nestle."