Woman sues Kraft claiming Velveeta Shells & Cheese took too long to make

A South Florida woman is suing Kraft Heinz claiming the food manufacturer hoodwinked her and other consumers by saying its Velveeta Shells and Cheese product only takes 3 1/2 minutes to be ready to eat.

The proposed class-action lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Miami, concerns Kraft’s microwavable single serve cups of macaroni and cheese.

The packaging claims the dish is “ready in 3 ½ minutes.” But Amanda Ramirez, the lead plaintiff, called the statement “false and misleading” and argued that the total prep time was longer.

Package directions indicate there are four steps to prepare the product. They include removing the cup’s lid and opening the cheese sauce pouch, adding water to the cup and stirring it, microwaving the cup and finally stirring the contents of the cheese pouch.

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Ramirez points out that the 3 ½ minutes advertised on the product only accounts for one of multiple steps. “Consumers seeing ‘ready in 3 ½ minutes’ will believe it represents the total amount of time it takes to prepare the product, meaning from the moment it is unopened to the moment it is ready for consumption,” the complaint reads.

The claim would be accurate if it indicated that it takes 3 ½ minutes to cook the cheesy pasta shells in the microwave, the lawsuit states.

The suit, filed this month by William Wright of the Wright Law Office in West Palm Beach and Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates in Great Neck, New York, sought more than $5 million in damages.

Ramirez is one of many consumers who “looks to bold statements of value when quickly selecting groceries” in order “to stretch their money as far as possible when buying groceries,” the complaint reads.

The Shells & Cheese cups sell for about $10.99 for eight 2.39-ounce cups, which is more than consumers would be willing to pay if they were accurately advertised, the lawsuit claims.

Kraft Heinz dismissed the suit as meritless.

“We are aware of this frivolous lawsuit and will strongly defend against the allegations in the complaint,” Kraft Heinz said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.