Federal judge tosses lawsuits aimed at New Jersey supermarkets' 'baked fresh' bread

Markets Associated Press

A judge has thrown out lawsuits filed by New Jersey consumers who said supermarkets fooled them into paying more for bread by advertising it was made fresh in their stores.

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Signs in Acme, Wegmans and Whole Foods said baked goods were made elsewhere and reheated in-store, according to the lawsuits filed in Camden in December.

The health-conscious consumers say the misleading signs with phrases such as "baked fresh" and "made in house" persuaded them to pay higher prices.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas dismissed a motion earlier this week to declare the suits class action and threw out related fraud claims. Irenas questioned how bread buyers could be identified and said the suits lacked details, like how consumers could be identified, especially if they paid cash.

The judge also said the plaintiffs' claim to be health-conscious is not enough without more details about misrepresentations.

"The (complaints) do not identify any particular bread or bakery products that Plaintiffs have purchased, the prices Plaintiffs paid for such products, the particular advertisements linked to those particular products, or when such purchases took place," Irenas wrote in his opinion.

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Whole Foods is pleased with the court's decision, said spokesman Michael Sinatra.

Wegmans never did anything to deceive or mislead its customers and never thought there was any merit to the suits, said Jo Natale, Wegmans' vice president of media relations.

A message left with Acme was not returned.