More to follow, but here’s a summary of the recent flood of class action lawsuits alleging that certain “all natural” claims are misleading and deceptive. Expect more to follow.
- Frito-Lay (filed January 30, 2012, in New York and December 14, 2011, in California): Frito-Lay is accused in two separate suits of marketing products as “all natural” when they included corn and vegetable oils made from genetically modified plants and organisms (“GMOs”). According to plaintiffs, “[t]he reasonable consumer assumes that seeds created by swapping genetic material across species to exhibit traits not naturally theirs are not ‘all natural.’”
- Tropicana Products, Inc. (filed January 6, 2012): Suit claims that Tropicana’s not-from-concentrate orange juice is misleadingly labeled as “100% pure and natural” because it “undergoes extensive processing which includes the addition of aromas and flavors,” which “changes the essential nature” of the juice into a product“ engineered in laboratories” with a “shelf-life of more than two months.”
- King Arthur Flour (filed November 14, 2011): Alleges that King Arthur Flour markets at least 64 products with “All Natural” claims that include “several synthetic ingredients… including ascorbic acid, disodium phosphate, potassium carbonate and sodium acid pyrophosphate.”
- ConAgra (filed November 8, 2011): ConAgra is accused of “engaging in a misleading advertising campaign in an effort to deceive customers into purchasing … [Wesson Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, and Best Blend] labeled and advertised as ‘100% Natural’” when they allegedly contain genetically modified ingredients.
- Kashi (multiple suits filed in August and September of 2011): Alleges that a number of Kashi products were “falsely represented” as “all natural” and containing “nothing artificial” when they actually included “synthetic and unnaturally processed ingredients, including sodium molybdate, phytonadione, sodium selenite, magnesium phosphate, niacinamide, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine … and other substances that have been declared to be synthetic substances by federal regulations.”
- General Mills (filed October 28, 2011): Reference to Kix cereal as including “all-natural whole grain corn” alleged to be false and misleading because it allegedly included genetically modified corn.
- Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. (filed on September 29, 2010): Alleges that consumers were misled who purchased certain Ben & Jerry’s “all natural” ice cream products containing“alkalized cocoa processed with potassium carbonate, a man made, synthetic ingredient.”25 The lawsuit continues even though Ben & Jerry’s agreed to remove the “all natural” labeling from all of its ice cream and frozen yogurt products.
- AriZona Beverages (filed on March 3, 2010): Alleges that several AriZona-brand beverages were marketed as “100% Natural” and “100% All Natural” but contained high fructose corn syrup and citric acid, which were alleged to be non-natural substances. Consumers complained that because of the labeling used on AriZona drinks, they “received something less than and different from what was promised and bargained for— a product that was not, in fact, all natural.”