Goya must face lawsuit claiming it substituted squid for octopus

September 9, 2016 10:40 AM EDT

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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - A federal judge rejected Goya Foods Inc's bid to dismiss a lawsuit claiming it sold canned octopus products that actually contained cheaper jumbo squid, hoping to save money because consumers would have trouble telling the difference.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled on Thursday that Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned U.S. food company, must face claims that it falsely warranted that its products contained octopus and were fit for use as octopus.

The judge dismissed other claims regarding the "culinary delicacies" against Jersey City, New Jersey-based Goya, including for fraud, but said the plaintiff can amend those claims by adding more specifics.

Goya and its law firm did not immediately respond on Friday to requests for comment. Lawyers for the plaintiff did not immediately respond to similar requests.

Luis Diego Zapata Fonseca sued on May 11 in the federal court in San Jose, California on behalf of purchasers nationwide and in California of Goya canned octopus in garlic sauce, hot sauce, pickled sauce or olive oil.

"Independent DNA testing" showed that the cans actually contained squid rather than octopus, whose prices have risen because of overfishing, according to the complaint.

Koh said the statements about DNA testing "are plausible on their face, and would, if true, entitle plaintiff to relief."

The plaintiff and his law firm Bursor & Fisher, a specialist in false labeling cases, have a similar lawsuit pending against Vigo Importing Co before a different judge in the same court.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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