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Consumers’ Foundation files class action suit against Costco Taiwan

Suit filed on behalf of 135 consumers who purchased frozen berries contaminated with hepatitis A

Tainted berries sold by Costco Taiwan. (FDA photo)

Tainted berries sold by Costco Taiwan. (FDA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Consumers’ Foundation held a press conference on Tuesday (Oct. 31) announcing a class action suit on behalf of 135 citizens affected by frozen berries tainted with the hepatitis A virus sold at Costco.

The Consumers’ Foundation’s suit requested compensation of NT$11 million (US$339,000) in punitive damages for pain and suffering. In April, Costco's “Kirkland Three Berry Blend" was found to be tainted with hepatitis A after 9,427 packets had been sold, per TVBS.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered a recall and destruction of all tainted products. Costco then issued a text message to everyone who purchased the product and launched an investigation into the tainted product.

The Consumers’ Foundation said Costco had taken a low-profile approach since the incident, offering to return double the purchase price of the food items purchased. However, the Consumers’ Foundation alleges Costco did not undertake the necessary food safety checks and did not issue an apology to affected consumers.

According to the Consumer Protection Act’s Article 7, business operators engaged in producing or manufacturing goods should comply with the expected safety standards. Should a company cause damage to consumers or third parties, it will be liable for compensation.

Furthermore, the Consumer Protection Act‘s Article 9 stipulates that businesses that import goods or services shall bear the manufacturer's liability. Furthermore, the Consumer Protection Act’s Article 51 says consumers can seek up to five times the damage caused by a business operator. Damages caused by gross negligence may lead to punitive damages up to three times the amount of the damage.

The Consumers’ Foundation said 135 consumers had entrusted the Consumer Foundation to file a class action lawsuit. The Consumers’ Foundation believes Costco should implement an inspection mechanism to ensure product safety.

Once an incident occurs, the Consumers’ Foundation believes that businesses such as Costco have to shoulder their corporate social responsibility and take the initiative to remove products from the shelves, offer an apology, and undertake adequate compensation measures for consumers who have been harmed.