Lawsuit Challenges General Mills’ Nature Valley All-Natural Claims

A new lawsuit challenges claims made by General Mills Inc. over its Nature Valley bars. The cereal giant claims that Nature Valley bars are all natural; the lawsuit calls those claims into question.

Two women are seeking a class action in the case that argues that the ingredients in the granola bars—specifically, high maltose corn syrup and maltodextrin—cannot be found in nature; therefore, the bars cannot be touted as “all natural,” said the Minneapolis Business Journal.

Advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is serving as co-counsel in the lawsuit, said the Minneapolis Business Journal. As a matter-of-fact, CSPI sued General Mills last year over its Fruit Roll-Ups and other, similar products. That lawsuit claimed that the products were touted as healthy when the are just “very cheap candy.” A bid to dismiss that lawsuit by General Mills was declined this May.

Most recently, General Mills has been involved in a class action lawsuit filed in California. The plaintiffs in that case allege that Yoplait Greek Yogurt contains Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC), and cannot be defined as “yogurt,” under U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) rules, said “Yoplait thus failed to provide purchasers of Yoplait Greek with the yogurt they were led to believe they were purchasing,” said the plaintiffs in their complaint. “Defendants engaged in unlawful and unfair conduct, causing injury in fact and loss of money to Plaintiffs and other consumers who purchased Yoplait Greek,” the complaint continued, said

Previously, we wrote that General Mills was involved in another improper labeling debacle. In 2009, General Mills was issued a Warning Letter by the FDA for illegally marketing its Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal.

The Cheerios box, reviewed by the FDA included the following statements: “you can Lower Your Cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks” and “Did you know that in just 6 weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent? Cheerios is … clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A clinical study showed that eating two 1 1/2 cup servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.”

Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), a “drug” includes “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals … ” The Cheerios label’s claims, the FDA said, “that Cheerios® is intended for use in lowering cholesterol, and therefore in preventing, mitigating, and treating the disease hypercholesterolemia and also claims that Cheerios® is intended for use in the treatment, mitigation, and prevention of coronary heart disease through, lowering total and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.” The claims actually serve to present the breakfast cereal as a drug.

Cheerios “is not generally recognized, among experts … as safe and effective for use … suggested in the labeling ….” said the FDA, which concluded, in part, that General Foods failed to conform to the specific requirements of certain claims concerning the degree of risk reduction for coronary heart disease to diets and that the cereal maker misbranded Cheerios by including unauthorized health claims in its labeling.

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