Canadian Company Pays Fine for Vermont Label

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(Host) A Canadian cheese company and its Vermont subsidiary will pay the state $56,000 to settle consumer fraud violations. The attorney general’s office says Fromage Cote of Warwick, Quebec labeled its Swiss-style cheese as a Vermont product when, in fact, it was made in Canada.

The state says Fromage Cote sold the cheese in 1999 through its Vermont subsidiary, Kingsey Cheese of Hardwick. Elliot Burg is the assistant attorney general who worked on the case:

(Burg) "The basic issue is that this was an imported product, based on our investigation. It was imported cheese that was then labeled as Vermont cheese."

(Host) Burg says it’s important to protect the integrity of the Vermont name, because it adds value in the marketplace.

(Burg) "Particularly if you’re talking about a food product or crafts or other kinds of products that are traditionally associated with Vermont. And so people are willing to make a decision to buy that product because it’s from Vermont or are willing to pay more for it because it’s from here. And if the information that they’re getting about the product is not true, that that’s a violation of the consumer fraud act."

(Host) Kingsey Cheese and Fromage Cote denied violating the consumer fraud law. But under the settlement with the state, the companies have agreed to no longer misrepresent the place of origin for their products.

They have also have agreed to pay the state $56,000 to settle the case. The civil penalties came to $20,000, $16,000 will cover the costs associated with the investigation, and $20,600 will go to the Vermont Foodbank.

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