No More “Meat” Balls: A Case of False Advertising

May 11, 2015 Law Research

A Finnish retailer, Kesko, recently found itself in a bit of a conundrum when it came to its popular meatballs they sell. If you go to the company’s website, you will notice that they have removed the word “meat” from the meatballs’ labeling, and has renamed them to simply say “balls”. What caused this to happen?

 

According to the ingredients, the former meatballs contain roughly 52% animal product. Under Finnish law, “animal product” doesn’t really count as “meat” since it is mechanically recovered. Because of this, the company decided to remove the word “meat” from their “meatball” packaging. They didn’t want to come under fire for false advertising.

 

According to Kesko’s research manager, Heta Raupalo, “Mechanically recovered meat cannot be described as meat. It’s mechanically separated from the bone after the parts that can be defined as meat have been removed from the carcass with a knife.”  Since Kesko got rid of the “meat” in their labeling, other Finnish companies have done the same.

 

In addition, Finland isn’t the only place where false advertising laws have caused strange and awkward word changes. For example, American made Minute Maid juice displays in bold type, “Contains 0% juice” on its labels. Hostess dodged a bullet by a hair when it comes to its Twinkie labels. They are described as being “creme-filled”, and not “cream-filled”, which would intend the filling is dairy based.

 

False advertising is a big legal matter when it comes to providing goods to consumers without leading them on with false pretenses. For example, an underwear company promised their product would get rid of your cellulite, but was unable to prove the garment could do so. In the end, Kesko dodged the possibility of fighting a false advertising lawsuits by simply stating this food is just “balls”.

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