The operators of the nationwide Pizzeria Uno restaurant chain have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that advertising touting a line of thin crust pizzas as "low fat" was false and misleading. To settle the charges, the chain has agreed not to misrepresent the existence or amount of fat or any other nutrient or substance in pizzas or other food products containing a baked crust.
"Millions of consumers are conscientious about the fat content of their food," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Whether selecting low fat foods at the grocery store or restaurants," she said, "consumers expect nutrient content claims made for products to be true."
In its first enforcement action involving nutrient content claims made by a restaurant chain, the FTC alleged that Boston, Massachusetts-based respondents Uno Restaurant Corporation, and its subsidiaries Pizzeria Uno Corporation and Uno Restaurants, Inc., promoted their "Thinzettas" line of thin crust pizzas in television commercials and print advertisements as "low fat." The ads include statements such as "[i]ntroducing great tasting low fat thin crust pizzas," and "[t]ry our ... 8 new Lowfat Thin Crust Pizzas." In fact, the complaint alleges, six of the pizzas in the line are over acceptable limits for low fat claims, with some containing up to 36 grams of fat per serving. The complaint alleges that the claim that these pizzas are low in fat is false and misleading.
To settle the FTC charges, a proposed consent agreement announced today for public comment would prohibit the respondents from misrepresenting the existence or amount of fat or any other nutrient or substance in any pizza or other "baked crust" food products. The proposed settlement would not prohibit the respondents from making representations that are specifically permitted in the Food and Drug Administration’s food labeling regulations.
The FTC’s Boston Regional Office handled the investigation. The Commission vote to place the proposed consent agreement on the public record for comment was 5-0. A summary of the proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly and will be subject to public comment for 60 days, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000.
Copies of the complaint, proposed consent agreement and an analysis of the agreement to assist the public in commenting will be available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov or by calling 202-326-3627. FTC documents are also available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC’s NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. 962 3150)