A case against Velveeta over the cooking time of its Shells & Cheese has been thrown out.
On July 27, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom ruled on a case that made headlines in late 2022: Ramirez v. Kraft Heinz Foods Company. The suit was filed by Florida resident Amanda Ramirez, who claimed the packaging on Kraft’s Velveeta Shells & Cheese Microwavable Shell Pasta was “deceptive.” It was dismissed without prejudice, which means the plaintiff can refile charges, alter the claim or bring the case to another court if she so wishes.
On Nov. 18, 2022, Ramirez sued Kraft Heinz Foods Company for at least $5 million over the product, claiming that it takes longer than 3-and-a-half minutes to prepare even though its packaging states “ready in 3½ minutes,” contending that the package’s wording constituted fraud.
In the dismissal document, Bloom said Ramirez “lacks standing” to pursue the proposed $5 million class action because “she suffered no injury.”
“Consumers seeing ‘ready in 3½ minutes’ will believe it represents the total amount of time it takes to prepare the Product,” reads the initial filing. “However, the directions outlined above show that 3-and-a-half minutes is just the length of time to complete one of several steps. The label does not state the Product takes ‘3½ minutes to cook in the microwave,’ which would have been true.” (The other steps, in this case, are removing the lid, adding water and stirring in a cheese sauce pouch.)
Ramirez claimed that since Kraft’s Velveeta product is sold at a “premium price,” stating that it costs “approximately no less than $10.99 for eight 2.39 oz cups, excluding tax and sales,” that the product is priced “higher than similar products represented in a non-misleading way” and “higher than it would be sold for absent the misleading representations and omissions.”
“We are aware of this frivolous lawsuit and will strongly defend against the allegations in the complaint,” Kraft Heinz told TODAY.com in November 2022.
In the dismissal document, Bloom said Ramirez never alleged that she had ever “even attempted to cook the product.”
Bloom also says there is no “threat of future injury” because Ramirez now knows that the three-and-a-half minutes on the packaging refers only to the time needed to microwave the product.
The initial filing shows that a West Palm Beach-based law firm filed the initial suit along with Sheehan and Associates, a New York law firm led by Spencer Sheehan, who has been down this road with clients many times before.
Sheehan is well-known for bringing lawsuits against the big companies who make items found in the grocery store, bringing more than 400 lawsuits targeting products you probably have in your pantry right now, NPR reported. In 2021, Sheehan spoke about why he’s brought so many lawsuits against companies like Tostitos, Kellogg’s, Betty Crocker and many, many more.
“I guess I’ve always been the type who would become annoyed [and] never liked it when companies cheated people for small amounts it would be difficult to recoup,” Sheehan told NPR at the time.