From the Federal Trade Commission’s shut down of Kellogg’s ads claiming that kids who ate Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal do better in school (the study compared them to kids who hadn’t eaten anything,) to POM Wonderful’s suit against a competitor’s blueberry pomegranate juice (which contained approximately an eye-dropper full of blueberry and pomegranate juice,) it seems that regulatory bodies, consumers and competitors are ever more watchful when companies make claims about their foods.
And Kellogg’s saw more of that vigilance this week, settling a class action suit that stemmed from allegations that it labeled Kashi granola bars in a misleading way. In the settlement Kellogg’s has agreed to drop verbiage on the packages of the bars that claim that there products contain “nothing artificial” and are “all natural.” The settlement also includes a $5 million payment to plaintiffs.
What exactly is in the bars that has consumers so upset about them being marketed as “natural?” According to the Wall Street Journal, ingredients included pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate and soy oil processed using hexane, a component of gasoline. While many of those chemicals do exists naturally, they’re also available in synthetic versions which are often used in foods and other edibles to control costs.
“We stand behind our advertising and labeling practices,” Kris Charles, a Kellogg spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We will comply with the terms of the settlement agreement by the end of the year and will continue to ensure our foods meet our high quality and nutrition standards while delivering the great taste people expect.”
Kellogg’s also faced issues with its Bare Naked products, settling for $325,000, for using the term “evaporated cane juice” which consumer advocates argued was a way to hide the fact raw sugar had been added to the products.
Similar labeling cases are pending against Chobani. Even POM wonderful, is a defendant in case separate from its battle over pomegranate blueberry juice, for exaggerating the health benefits of pomegranate juice in its ads.
As consumers become more aware of what they’re eating, these types of cases are likely to continue.
For more on labeling claims check out these stories: