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Friday, October 31

BURLINGTON (AP) -- A Vermont pasta sauce maker accused of using deceptive labeling under a new consumer fraud rule has agreed to donate $50,000 worth of food to the Vermont Foodbank and pay a $5,000 fine. The Vermont attorney general's office announced the settlement with Bove's of Vermont on Wednesday, saying the labeling was "an unfair and deceptive trade practice under the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act."

Attorney General William Sorrell says the sauce, which evolved from Bove's Restaurant in Burlington, is made in Rochester, N.Y., using California tomatoes.

The consumer fraud rule "prohibits the use of a company name containing the word 'Vermont' to advertise or market a food product made outside of Vermont or containing non-Vermont primary ingredients, unless the product label clearly discloses the out-of-state connection," the attorney general said.

The label didn't make the required disclosures until nearly two years after the rule took effect in 2006, the attorney general said.

Mark Bove, the head of the company, says the sauce, made from his grandmother's recipe, is still served at the restaurant and has always included out-of-state tomatoes.

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"Bove's was not being deceptive in any kind of practice or trying to fool anybody," he said. "You can't grow tomatoes in Vermont all year round, and I do know where all my ingredients come from -- all my garlic and onions and cheeses and all my labels and jars."

The sauce, which is marketed in supermarkets nationally, is now labeled as Bove's.

The food donation was the company's idea, and it plans to double the amount to $100,000, Bove said.

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