“All Natural” or all a lie?

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By Heather Mendiola

Consumers take Naked Juice and Kashi to court over misleading labels

A trial began on Feb. 11, 2014 against Kashi Co. for intentionally mislabeling their products.

Kashi Co. and Bear Naked Inc., both owned by Kellogg Co., had class action lawsuits filed against them in 2011 for intentionally mislabeling their products to reach a target market.

A class action lawsuit was filed against Naked Juice Co. of Glendova in late 2011, alleging that Naked Juice Co., a PepsiCo-owned company, also intentionally mislabeled their products.

A class action lawsuit refers to a unit, when a group of people or person sues or gets sued by another group of people. For this case specifically, a group of customers sued a company.

In mid-2013, PepsiCo settled for $9 million dollars, but released a statement that they deny any wrongdoing.

The case is currently being appealed, but the company issued a statement that they will no longer use the word “natural” on their product labels.

All three companies were accused of labeling their products as “100% Juice,” “All Natural” and “Non-GMO” to target the demographic that is willing to pay the extra money for an all-natural and non-GMO product, while relying on their demographic not to look into how the ingredients were derived.

The consumers feel cheated because they expected the label to be an accurate representation of the actual products used in the juices. The customers stated, “Defendant knows that its labeling claims and omissions are false, deceptive and likely to mislead reasonable consumers.”

The customers pointed out that the word “natural” is defined in the dictionary as, “Existing in or produced by nature: not artificial.”

This term is consistent with the expectations of customers.

GMO’s are not natural; they are synthetic. GMO, in fact, stands for “genetically modified organism.” Human manipulation of food is an entirely unnatural process.

There were 14 ingredients presented as being synthetically derived and therefore rendering the drink no longer all-natural.

The following are vitamin supplements that can naturally occur in certain foods, but when these ingredients are used as supplements in food they are not naturally occurring and are instead chemically synthesized: ascorbic acid as Vitamin C; beta-carotene as Vitamin A; biotin as Vitamin H; choline bitartate as choline; cyanocobalamin as Vitamin B12; and D-Calcium Pantothenate as Vitamin B5 (pantopethnic acid), among others.

The following are not naturally occurring substances that are present in the juice’s ingredients: Fibersol®-2 for dietary fiber; fructooligosaccharides for sweeteners and dietary fiber; enzymatically hydrolized Inulin; zinc oxide; and zinc methionine sulfate.

The following are extracted from soybeans by immersing them in hexane, a petroleum refining byproduct, before further processing can take place. This process renders the juice non-natural: soy protein isolate and soy lecithin.

Kashi has been accused of participating in a similar mislabeling scheme.

Some ingredients, such as the ascorbic acid, soy protein isolate and soy lecithin, are precisely the same ingredients about which Kashi is being accused of misinforming its customers.

The Naked settlement is giving up to $75 to customers who can provide proof of purchase and up to $45 to those who cannot provide proof of purchase.

While the reimbursement is relatively low compared to cost of product, the customers recieved what they asked for.

The company stopped labeling their products as “All Natural” and “Non-GMO,” and  customers were reimbursed for their previous purchases, though the reimbursments did not completely cover the total expenses incurred by the wronged customers.

 

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