Suit over ConAgra’s “natural” claim could open food litigation floodgates
By Ken Roseboro
Published: October 1, 2011
Category: GM Food Labeling and Regulations
Lawsuits against ConAgra and Kashi could be the first of many targeting “natural” claims
A class action lawsuit which has been filed against food giant ConAgra for labeling its cooking oils as “All-Natural,” even though they may be derived from genetically modified crops, could open the floodgates to litigation against many companies which make similar “Natural” claims for their food products.
Such claims could be considered unfair, misleading, or deceptive under very broad state consumer protection laws, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
Banzhaf was the architect of a lawsuit against McDonald’s, over claims that its french fries were cooked in 100% pure vegetable oil, which forced the company to pay a $12.5 million settlement.
There are many “all natural,” “natural,” or “100% Natural” food claims which might be found unfair, misleading, or deceptive, says Banzhaf. For example, Kix cereal, Wesson oil, Pam spray, and Frito Lay chips all claim “100% Natural” on their packaging, but allegedly contain GM ingredients.
An estimated 70% of processed foods contain ingredients which come from GMOs, and many nevertheless make claims that they are “Natural,” says Banzhaf. Thus the number of potential lawsuits concerning such claims, and the number of potential plaintiffs for individual or class actions, is huge.
Another class action suit was recently filed against Kashi, which is owned by Kellogg’s, claiming some of the company’s products are mislabeled as “all natural” and free of artificial ingredients, though “defendants knew these claims to be false.”
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