(CN) – A federal class action claims Unilever markets its margarine as “healthy” though it contains toxic trans fats. Unilever pushes I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, Country Crock and Imperial Margarine as cholesterol-free alternatives to butter and promotes it as “natural” and “nutritious,” though it knows trans fats are unnatural and dangerous, according to the complaint.
Trans fats (trans-isomer fatty acids) are found in trace amounts in red meat, but most of the trans fats humans consume are byproducts of the hydrogenation process, according to the complaint in Los Angeles Federal Court.
Created in 1901, artificial trans fats were initially regarded as a “wonder product” because they are cheap and can be stored indefinitely, the lawsuit states. But the class claims trans fats were later found to contribute to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
California, New York City and Denmark have all banned or restricted the use of the artificial substance, the class claims.
The class wants damages and an order directing Unilever to replace its misleading marketing campaign with a “corrective” one.
The class is represented by Gregory Weston of San Diego and Jared Beck of Miami.