September 22, 2020

General Mills settles four suits over ‘Nature Valley’ Granola Bars

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Granola-Nature-Valley-Granola-BarsBy Laura Castro, From The National Law Journal

General Mills Inc. has settled four proposed class actions alleging the company use of the term “100% Natural” on its Nature Valley products was deceptive and misleading because they contain genetically modified organisms and other synthetic ingredients.

The agreement prevents Minneapolis-based General Mills from claiming that its Nature Valley granola bars, crispy squares, and trail mix bars are “100% Natural” if those products contain corn syrup, soy lecithin, glycerin, maltodextrin, or several other artificially produced ingredients. Those products must also not contain more than a trace of any ingredients derived from bioengineered crops or plant material.

The settlement, announced in November and went into immediate effect, applies to the labeling and marketing for 30 Nature Valley products including Crunch Granola Bars, Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars and Yogurt Granola Bars.

Damages payments made by General Mills to the plaintiffs were not specified in the settlement, which states “plaintiff’s counsel for the four cases have agreed that the monies paid…constitutes reasonable and sufficient consideration.”

The settlement ends four class action lawsuits brought on behalf of consumers by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and two law firms. The lead plaintiffs in those suits, all filed in 2012, are Judith Janney, Gabriel Rojas and Sean Bohac of California and Nicole Van Atta of Colorado. Read a previous coverage here about the Rojas lawsuit.

In a press release, the CSPI said, “The agreement helps nudge the marketplace, otherwise awash in varyingly flimsy ‘natural’ claims, in the right direction.” The nonprofit said: “FDA has a limited definition of natural—foods that do “not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances”—but it rarely enforces it.”

“No acceptable official definition of ‘natural’ should allow the claim on highly processed ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup or maltodextrin, substances that literally do not occur in nature,” said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner in the release. “But as long as there is no definition, companies will still recklessly make the claim, and consumers will continue to be deceived.”

In the agreement, General Mills denied it committed any violations of law or wrongful conduct, saying it settled the cases “solely because it will eliminate the uncertainty, distraction, burden and expense of further litigation.”

Photo: Nature Valley

For more on this story go to: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202678792800/General-Mills-Settles-Four-Suits-Over-Nature-Valley-Granola-Bars#ixzz3LyK4Zola

 

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