Wisconsin woman’s lawsuit alleges cheese, tomato sauce fraud by Bagel Bites maker

MADISON, Wis. — An Elroy, Wisconsin, woman has sued the maker of Bagel Bites Pizza Snacks, alleging that deceptive packaging misleads consumers about the product’s use of “real” mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce.

The federal lawsuit, filed Sunday by Kaitlyn Huber and obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, accuses Chicago-based Kraft Heinz Co. of fraudulently marketing Bagel Bites by featuring the the REAL Seal, which indicates the use of real dairy in a product, as well as large type specifically promoting the two ingredients.

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“Wisconsin consumers want real mozzarella cheese in pizza because they value (1) its soft, moist texture, (2) its milky, yet tangy taste and (3) its high protein and relatively low calories and sodium compared to other cheeses,” the suit states.

Kraft Heinz’s claim that the snacks contain authentic tomato sauce is also misleading, according to the lawsuit.

“Reasonable Wisconsin consumers expect a product claiming to contain ‘Tomato Sauce’ will contain only tomato ingredients and seasonings instead of thickeners like cornstarch and methylcellulose,” the suit states.

Kraft Heinz spokesperson Lynne Galia told the Journal Sentinel on Monday that the company did not have any comment on Huber’s legal action.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status on behalf of anyone who bought Bagel Bites in Wisconsin, seeks unspecified damages and requests that the court require Kraft Heinz to correct its packaging, WMTV reported.

The lawsuit also states that the dairy industry is “more integral to Wisconsin than potatoes are to Idaho and oranges to Florida,” the TV station reported.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the dairy industry contributes $45.6 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Meanwhile, the Journal Sentinel confirmed that roughly one-third of all cheese produced in Wisconsin – more than a billion pounds in 2017 – is mozzarella.

“Ninety-six percent of Wisconsin dairy farms are family-owned, which means there is a constant connection to dairy which would not exist if this industry were dominated by multinational agribusinesses,” the lawsuit states.