Woman Sues Tomato Company, Saying Those Weren’t San Marzanos in the Can

San Marzano tomatoes are prized by chefs around the world for their intense flavor and are routinely recommended by recipe writers, but one woman in California said that her effort to make a sauce from these rich and balanced tomatoes was upset by a misleading label.

Simpson Imports, a Pennsylvania tomato seller, has for years sold Roma tomatoes in cans and boxes, but the California woman, Andrea Valiente, said in a lawsuit filed last year that the company had used “highly misleading tomato packaging to trick consumers into believing that they are purchasing genuine San Marzano tomatoes, at San Marzano prices.”

Simpson Imports sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but Araceli Martínez-Olguín, a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of California, said in an order on Tuesday that some of Ms. Valiente’s claims could move forward.

Simpson Imports said in an emailed statement that it “strongly disputes that reasonable consumers could have been deceived” by the label since “San Marzano” does not appear on it.

The company said “San Marzano” had not been used on the products’ labels in nearly a decade, not since the “products contained a different blend.”

Simpson Imports sells its canned and boxed tomatoes, as well as tomato sauces and a tomato paste, under its “San Merican Tomatoes” brand, which it said was made with a “proprietary blend of Roma tomatoes.” The company’s products are often recommended by food experts, including writers at The New York Times.


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