Monday, February 4, 2019

Week 5 - Is the American Heart Association check-mark logo misleading?

Warner v Starkist
Northern District of New York

Plaintiff Abraham Jacob Warner filed this lawsuit in April 2018, alleging that the American Heart Association [AMA] check-mark logo included on cans of StarKist tuna is misleading to consumers because it makes consumers believe that StarKist tuna is healthier than other tuna without the label.  In fact, the AMA label is a paid endorsement.  If a product meets the AMA standards, the company can pay the AMA for the right to use the label on its products and in its advertising.  Federal law requires companies using a paid endorsement to make a statement in close proximity to the claim, informing consumers that the organization or individual was compensated for the endorsement. 

Oddly, this is the only photo of a can of StarKist tuna I could find on Wikimedia Commons
The AHA responded with a statement that participating food manufacturers pay an administrative fee and an annual fee to use the logo.  The fees offset the costs and expenses of the program, including program management and the testing and certification of products.  Any brand or company can use the logo if the product meets the requirements.

StarKist filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the AMA logo is a “certification process, not an endorsement.”  The motion also points out that Plaintiff's complaint does not allege that the StarKist products don't qualify for the AMA logo, or that its advertising is otherwise false.


  1. Same goes here for the Heart Association tick, but there is no requirement for a paid endorsement statement to be on the label.