US seafood restaurant chain Red Lobster is facing a class action lawsuit from a group of Californian consumers over what they claim is “the deceptive marketing and sale” of the restaurant chain's Maine lobster and shrimp products as “sustainable."
The plaintiffs argue Red Lobster’s claims of sustainability are deceptive because the products in question may be sourced from suppliers that use "environmentally harmful and inhumane practices," according to court documents filed in the US District Court in California.
There are at least 100 members in the proposed class action.
The lawsuit claims Red Lobster sources shrimp and lobster from unsustainable sources but states the opposite in its marketing materials.
It argues that Red Lobster sources its Maine lobster menu items from suppliers that use "environmentally destructive practices that threaten endangered populations of North American right whales."
Additionally, Red Lobster’s shrimp menu items are sourced from industrial shrimp farms that "do not employ the highest environmental or animal welfare standards," the plaintiffs allege.
Red Lobster sources lobster from among other areas the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery, which had its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification suspended in August 2020, over the fishery's risk to right whales, plaintiff attorneys note.
Red Lobster's shrimp products, meanwhile, are sourced from Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and China.
The suit notes that the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommends consumers avoid shrimp from those regions.
Based on the alleged misrepresentations, the plaintiffs argue they paid more for the products, purchased the products -- or more of the products -- when they otherwise would not have.
In a similar class action lawsuit, Norwegian salmon farming giant Mowi agreed to pay a $1.3 million (€1 million) settlement after plaintiffs alleged the company deceptively marketed its Ducktrap brand smoked salmon as "sustainable" and "eco-friendly."
The parties reached an agreement in February, according to documents filed with a New York court