Velveeta's Microwavable Macaroni and Cheese Takes Longer to Make Than Promised, Lawsuit Claims

A recent class action filing asserts the cups of shells and cheese aren't actually "ready" in 3.5 minutes.

Containers of Velveeta brand Shells and Cheese at a grocery store

Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo

Three and a half minutes means exactly three and a half minutes. That's what a Florida woman (and her legal team) have told Kraft Heinz, alleging that the company misleads consumers when it claims that its microwavable Velveeta shells and cheese cups are ready to eat in exactly 3.5 minutes.

In her recently filed class-action lawsuit, lead plaintiff Amanda Ramirez tells Kraft Heinz that those microwaveable cups of pasta and cheese actually take a bit longer to prepare, because nuking them for 3.5 minutes is one of four steps that are required before eating them. (Ramirez's legal filing helpfully notes that the other steps include removing the lid and cheese sauce pouch, adding water, and stirring in the cheese sauce.)

"The label does not state the Product takes '3½ minutes to cook in the microwave,' which would have been true," the lawsuit states. "To provide consumers with a Product that is actually 'ready in 3½ minutes,' the Product would need to be cooked in the microwave for less than 3-and-a-half minutes, so that all the preparation steps could be completed in the 3-and-a-half minutes time frame."

The legal filing also claimed that Ramirez "believed and expected" that each cup of Velveeta shells and cheese would take "3 ½ minutes total" to prepare, because of the circular "Ready in 3 ½ minutes" graphic on each package. The lawsuit does not say how much extra time removing the lid and stirring that cheese sauce into the cup added. Regardless, it alleges that Ramirez would not have bought that particular brand of microwavable pasta "had she known the truth."

Ramirez and any other plaintiffs in the class are seeking at least $5 million in punitive damages from Kraft Heinz for this alleged "false and misleading representation." In a statement to USA Today, a Kraft Heinz spokesperson said "We are aware of this frivolous lawsuit and will strongly defend against the allegations in the complaint."

The lawsuit was filed on Friday, November 18, in a U.S. District Court in Miami. One of the plaintiffs' attorneys is listed as Spencer Sheehan of Great Neck, New York law firm Sheehan & Associates. According to NPR, Sheehan has filed over 400 similar lawsuits alleging that food and beverage products or their packaging have misled customers in some way. (And that total includes over 100 separate lawsuits that were filed related to various companies' claims that their products do not contain real vanilla.)

"[F]rankly, these types of cases are the only mechanism by which an individual person or consumers in general are able to say to a company, 'Hey, this isn't right. You need to fix this. You need to disclose that this product is flavored or this product doesn't really have butter or that the vanilla is not real vanilla,'" Sheehan told the CBC in June. "Those may seem like small things. I'll admit we're not curing cancer. But it is equally important to any other cause of action that a court may address."

In August, an Illinois judge granted Kraft Heinz' motion to dismiss another lawsuit filed by Sheehan, one alleging that the company's Bagel Bites did not contain tomato sauce or three kinds of cheese.

One thing's for sure: This latest lawsuit will likely take more than 3.5 minutes to resolve.

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