TRENTON, NJ. — Grillo’s Pickles, Inc. claims Wahlburgers pickles, which are promoted as fresh, all natural and containing no preservatives, do contain artificial chemical preservatives, according to a lawsuit filed Jan. 3 in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey.
The pickles are sold in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores, often alongside other pickles. The alleged false and misleading claims about Wahlburgers pickles harmed Grillo’s Pickles, Westwood, Mass., through diverted sales, lost shelf space and lost market share, according to the lawsuit.
Defendants in the lawsuit include Patriot Pickle, Inc., ARKK Food Co. and Wahlburgers I, LLC. Patriot Pickle manufactures, packages, labels and ships Wahlburgers pickles from Patriot’s facility in Wayne, NJ, on behalf of ARKK Food Co. and Wahlburgers. ARKK controls the entire line of Wahlburgers retail products. Wahlburgers I LLC, Hingham, Mass., owns the Wahlburgers trademarks on the pickles’ labels.
Patriot Pickle had no comment on the lawsuit, according to a spokesperson, while ARKK Food Co. and Wahlburgers did not respond to requests for comment.
Testing performed by Biogen Laboratory Developments, LLC revealed Wahlburgers pickles contained benzoic acid, which often is added to foods via sodium benzoate, an artificial chemical designed to lengthen the shelf life of pickles, according to the lawsuit. Certificates of analysis from Biogen’s testing indicate Wahlburgers hot dill chips pickles contained sodium benzoate in a concentration of 641 parts per million (ppm), Wahlburgers dill spears pickles contained sodium benzoate in a concentration between 424 and 436 ppm, and Wahlburgers dill chips pickles contained sodium benzoate in a concentration of 600 ppm.The lawsuit requests that the defendants include the name of the artificial chemical preservative on the products’ labels and describe it as a chemical preservative. The lawsuit seeks that Grillo’s be awarded the following relief: any damages sustained by Grillo’s to be determined at trial, treble damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.