NEWPORT — The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has settled a lawsuit alleging that VerMints, Inc., violated the law by labeling its flavored mints as “Vermont” products when in fact they were made in Canada, from out-of-state ingredients. The settlement requires VerMints and its President, Gary Rinkus of Braintree, Massachusetts, to donate $35,000 to the Vermont Foodbank, pay the State of Vermont $30,000, and add corrective labeling to its products for 18 months.
“Use of the term ‘Vermont’ has great economic value, and many businesses go to the expense of sourcing their ingredients and processing within the state in order to market their products as Vermont products,” said Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell. “We need to maintain a level playing field when it comes to claims of geographic origin, and to ensure that consumers who care about where their food comes from get accurate information in the marketplace,” he added.
VerMints’ products come in metal tins, and from 2006 to 2011, they were prominently labeled as “Vermont’s All-Natural Mints.”
Because they were manufactured in Canada from mostly non-Vermont ingredients, the labeling violated the Vermont Consumer Protection Act and Consumer Protection Rule 120, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
The corrective advertising provision of the settlement requires VerMints to add the words “Produced in Canada” to the front of tins sold to states in the northeast United States, to counter the impression that the products come from Vermont.