Many of us as consumers look for words like “natural,” “organic” and “low-fat” when we shop for food. However, those words may be as reflective of the contents of the product as consumers believe they should be. To make matters more confusing, both for customers and food produces, is that in some cases, like with the word “natural,” even the Food and Drug Administration does not define specifically what it means.
Increasingly, manufacturers are facing lawsuits over their labeling. PepsiCo Inc., for example, changed the labeling on products as diverse as granola, chips and juice as the result of legal actions. On May 2, Kellogg Co., which is headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, agreed to settle a lawsuit over the labeling of some of its Kashi brand products.
As part of the class action settlement, the company says that it will change either the labels or the ingredients of the products in question this year. It will also pay $5 million.
The plaintiffs accused Kellogg of misusing the terms “Nothing Artificial” and “All Natural” on some of its Kashi products that include artificial or synthetic ingredients including calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride and sodium phosphate. According to a May 8 article in The New York Times, the products in question include Kashi granola bars, cereals, waffles and some products in its GoLean line.
Companies that produce and sell food can be particularly susceptible to lawsuits. This is not only because of the inherent health and safety aspects of their business, but because many people, not to mention regulatory agencies, expect food products to be accurately labelled. As we noted, sometimes even government labeling specifications are not as clear as they could be. By working with a strong legal team experienced in business litigation, they can help minimize the chances of facing costly lawsuits that can tarnish their brand.
Source: CBS DC, “Kashi Settles ‘All Natural’ Lawsuit For $5 Million, Promises Label Changes” No author given, May. 08, 2014