Settlement Proceeds Disbursed to Emergency Food Programs

March 8, 2011

AUGUSTA ? Maine Attorney General William Schneider announces that the latest settlement in a global price-fixing case is helping to fill the shelves of the Good Shepherd Food Bank, the state?s largest distributor of emergency food to those in need. A portion of the settlement will also improve the ability of the State?s Emergency Food Assistance Program (administered by the Maine Department of Agriculture) to store and distribute frozen and refrigerated donated food for needy Mainers.

More than $135,000 in proceeds from the settlement has been given to the Good Shepherd Food Bank and The Emergency Assistance Food Program. The money comes from ten separate vitamin manufacturers, all of whom agreed to terms of the latest settlement. While the settlement authorized the Attorney General to retain a portion of the proceeds for expenses in bringing the case, he opted to forego that share to maximize the relief going directly to Mainers in need.

This is the second settlement in the price-fixing case; in 2001 the Maine Attorney General?s Office delivered more than $1.245 million in funds from an initial settlement which totaled $225 million for consumers and businesses in participating states. The price-fixing conspiracy among vitamins manufacturers indirectly raised the cost of food between 1988 and 2000, Schneider said. Because the majority of all food items sold commercially contain vitamins or vitamin products, food manufacturers supplementing their products with overpriced vitamins and nutrients resulted in higher prices for consumers.

The latest settlement money is intended to compensate Maine consumers who ultimately overpaid for food products during the years of the conspiracy. Because of the difficulty in providing a small rebate to thousands of Maine consumers, the settlement provides for the proceeds to be distributed through grants for programs that benefit and improve the health or nutrition of Maine consumers. The Attorney General opted to use the money for emergency hunger relief to do the greatest good for Maine people still struggling to recover from the economic downturn, a plan approved by the judge who oversaw the case.

The Good Shepherd Food Bank will use its portion of the funds to purchase Maine-grown produce and Maine-processed food, as well as other vital food purchases from producers outside Maine, for distribution throughout the state. The Emergency Food Assistance Program will improve its refrigerated storage facility to better enable it to store and distribute frozen and refrigerated donated food.

CONTACT: Brenda Kielty (207) 626-8577