NEWARK (CN) – A class action claims that major hot dog manufacturers “unlawfully conceal from their customers that consumption of their hot dogs … is a major contributor to the risk of colorectal cancer.” The class demands “mandatory warning signs” on packages of hot dogs and ads for Kraft Foods, Sara Lee, Conagra, Nathan’s Famous, and Marathon hot dogs.
The complaint in Essex County Court states that research done by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research “concluded that substantial evidence shows a dose response relationship between processed meat and colorectal cancer.” The three named plaintiff say these reports “recommend avoiding any consumption of processed meat products, such as hot dogs.”
The plaintiffs acknowledge that “there are several possible molecular mechanisms” linking processed meats to cancer and that “a single mechanism has not been determined – just as with cigarettes and lung cancer”.
But they say that a meta-analysis of cancer studies showed that “a daily intake of 25 grams of processed meat is associated with a 49 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer.”
A meta-analysis is a study of studies.
The class claims the defendants have “a duty to warn their customers about the risks associated with consumption of their products,” but “chose to conceal information about the known carcinogens in their processed meat products to prevent the loss of profits that would occur if properly informed consumers were to choose other food products.”
The class demands declaratory relief and damages for consumer fraud. They want warnings on hot dog packages and ads in New Jersey to state: “Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer.”
They claim that “should this court fail to act against these violations, the risk of cancer will increase for the general public,” which will “result in increased health-care costs to the individual consumers and the public at large.”
The class also seeks $900, trebled, as damages for the “combined purchase price of the defendants’ products” that the three New Jersey-based plaintiffs bought over a 5-year period.
They are represented by Daniel Kinburn, with Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group The Cancer Project.