Food maker reaches $5M settlement over 'All Natural' labels
A food maker will no longer use "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" labels on certain products by one of its brands as part of a $5-million agreement to settle a class action lawsuit.
Battle Creek-based Kellogg Co. said it stands by its advertising and labeling practices, but that it would change its formulas or labels nationally by the end of the year.
The suit had accused the food maker's Kashi brand of misleading people by stamping the phrase "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" on products that contained a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients.
Among the ingredients listed in the suit were pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, hexane-processed soy ingredients, ascorbic acid, glycerin and sodium phosphate.
The settlement was filed May 2 in U.S. District Court in California and is subject to court approval.
As people look to stick to diets they feel are wholesome, companies have flooded supermarket shelves with products marketed as "natural."
But more recently, numerous lawsuits have challenged their use of the term on products that contain ingredients some say don't fit that definition.
The mounting legal challenges have prompted several companies to remove the word from packaging.
PepsiCo, for instance, changed its Simply Natural line of Frito-Lay chips to Simply, even though the ingredients didn't change. Likewise, its Natural Quaker Granola was changed to Simply Quaker Granola.
PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., also agreed to remove the words "all natural" from its Naked juices to settle a lawsuit that noted the drinks contained artificial ingredients.
The Food and Drug Administration says it doesn't have an official definition for the term "natural," noting that a food product has likely been processed and is "no longer the product of the earth."
But the agency notes that it has not objected to the use of the term, if the food doesn’t contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.