A Florida woman is seeking $5 million in damages from Kraft Heinz Foods Company because its Velveeta macaroni and cheese takes much longer than three-and-a-half minutes to prepare. Amanda Ramirez of Hialeah called the "ready in 3 1/2 minutes" statement on the package "false and misleading," noting that this only represents how long the macaroni needs to be cooked in a microwave. The plaintiff claims they would not have bought the product at all if it correctly listed the length of time it takes to prepare it.
The product at the center of the class-action lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida, is Kraft Heinz's Velveeta Shells & Cheese single-serve microwave cups. The front of the package advertises that it is "ready in 3 1/2 minutes," but Ramirez disputes this. The package's directions include two steps before consumers even put it in the microwave, the lawsuit notes. The first step is removing the lid and cheese pouch before consumers add water and stir.
After this, the package directs consumers to cook the macaroni in a microwave for three-and-a-half minutes. Then, consumers have to stir the macaroni with the cheese sauce before eating. The package also notes that "cheese sauce will thicken upon standing," the lawsuit notes.
"Consumers seeing 'ready in 3½ minutes' will believe it represents the total amount of time it takes to prepare the Product, meaning from the moment it is unopened to the moment it is ready for consumption," the lawsuit reads. "However, the directions outlined above show that 3-and-a-half minutes is just the length of time to complete one of several steps."
Ramirez suggests that the package should state "3½ minutes to cook in the microwave" because that "would have been true." Consumers are "misled to expect the Product will be ready for consumption in a shorter amount of time than it really takes to prepare," the lawsuit reads.
Ramirez was also upset about the price tag. She accused Kraft Heinz of selling the Velveeta macaroni for a "premium price" of "no less than $10.99 for eight 2.39-oz. cups," which is "higher than similar products." The plaintiff is "like many consumers who seek to stretch their money as far as possible when buying groceries," and thought the Velveeta macaroni was a deal based on the "ready in 3 1/2 minutes" claim. She would not have bought the macaroni if she knew it would take over 210 seconds to prepare the food, but she would buy it again if the label was corrected.
Ramirez is seeking $5 million in damages and statutory and/or punitive damages from Kraft Heinz Foods Company. "We are aware of this frivolous lawsuit and will strongly defend against the allegations in the complaint," Kraft Heinz said in a statement to USA Today.