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Safeway Claims Kona Labels Were Changed As Debate Brews

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Safeway Claims Kona Labels Were Changed As Debate Brews

Last Year's Safeway Label Lawsuit

Last year, Safeway was hit with a $5 million class action lawsuit in Northern California because the supermarket was profiting off an inferior Kona blend coffee that contained less of the Hawaii-grown coffee than the label indicated.

The lawsuit was filed a year ago, and Safeway wrote a letter to the Kona Coffee Farmers Association indicating that the company would change its labels to reflect the actual percentage of Kona the coffee contained. Kona farmers called for a boycott of all 1,700 Safeway stores across the nation.

The Department of Agriculture asked Safeway to voluntarily comply with Hawaiian law that the grocer was not subject to and change labels that indicated the actual percentage of Kona coffee, which needed to be at least 10 percent.

Safeway Changes Kona Labels
Safeway has made good on its promise to change the Kona labels but the Kona Coffee Farmers Association said the grocer still has not fully complied with the changes.

Bruce Corker, a member of the association board of directors, said Kona officials have been in Safeway stores and have not noticed a change.

"Given the product shelf life, packaging used before the (changes) may still exist on store shelves or elsewhere in our distribution chain," said Brian Dowling, Safeway vice president of public affairs.