That octopus is really squid, lawsuit against Goya claims

By Jonathan Stempel
May 12, 2016

A hostess opens a door at a Goya stand during the Alimentaria food trade show in Barcelona, Spain, April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea More
By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - A new lawsuit accuses Goya Foods Inc of cheating consumers by selling canned octopus products that actually contain cheaper, lower quality jumbo squid.

"Independent DNA testing" confirmed that the largest Hispanic-owned U.S. food company made the switch, according to a complaint filed late Wednesday in the federal court in San Jose, California. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 million of damages.

Goya, based in Jersey City, New Jersey, did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.

The plaintiff Luis Diego Zapata Fonseca, of Salinas, California, sued on behalf of purchasers nationwide and in California of Goya canned octopus in garlic sauce, hot sauce, pickled sauce or olive oil.

According to the complaint, both fish have similar textures, making it hard for people to tell them apart, especially when they are bathed in sauce.

But while octopus prices have risen because of overfishing, jumbo squid are thriving, and they adapt easily to changing ocean conditions caused by global warming, the complaint said.

The plaintiff believes Goya "intentionally replaced the octopus in its octopus products with squid as a cheap substitute to save money because it knew an ordinary consumer would have trouble distinguishing the difference," the complaint said.

The lawsuit was filed by Bursor & Fisher, a specialist in false labeling lawsuits. It did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.