Lawsuit alleges deceptive labeling for Nature Valley

by Jeff Gelski
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Nature Valley lawsuit, General Mills
The Nature Valley products in the lawsuit include Crunchy granola bars, Trail Mix chewy granola bars, Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars, Breakfast Biscuits, Oatmeal Squares, Oatmeal Bars and Oatmeal Bistro.

WASHINGTON — Three non-profit organizations have sued General Mills, Inc. and accused the company of “deceptive labeling, marketing and sale” of its Nature Valley granola products. The items should not be advertised as “made with 100% natural whole grain oats” because they allegedly contain the herbicide glyphosate, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 24 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

The Organic Consumers Association, Moms Across America and Beyond Pesticides filed the lawsuit jointly with the Richman Law Group. It alleges General Mills has violated the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

Mike Siemienas, General Mills
Mike Siemienas, manager of brand media relations for General Mills

“We stand behind our products and the accuracy of our labels,” said Mike Siemienas, manager, brand media relations, for Minneapolis-based General Mills.

Glyphosate is sprayed directly on several crops, including oat crops, according to the lawsuit. The World Health Organization lists glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic.”

According to the lawsuit, an independent laboratory found the amount of glyphosate to be 0.45 part per million (p.p.m.) in the Nature Valley items. The lawsuit cites a Consumer Reports’ survey from 2014 that showed 66% of respondents said a “natural” label on packaged and processed foods means that “no toxic pesticides were used.”

Zen Honeycutt, Moms Across America
Zen Honeycutt, founder and executive director of Moms Across America

“As a mother, when I read ‘100% natural,’ I would expect that to mean no synthetic or toxic chemicals at all,” said Zen Honeycutt, founder and executive director of Moms Across America.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to halt the allegedly false marketing and sale of the Nature Valley products and a court-ordered corrective advertising campaign. It also seeks a trial by jury.

The Nature Valley products in the lawsuit include Crunchy granola bars, Trail Mix chewy granola bars, Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars, Breakfast Biscuits, Oatmeal Squares, Oatmeal Bars and Oatmeal Bistro.

Moms Across America, Mission Viejo, Calif., seeks to raise awareness about G.M.O.s and toxic exposure. Beyond Pesticides, Washington, seeks to protect public health and the environment and to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. The Organic Consumers Association, Finland, Mich., focuses on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.

The Richman Law Group, Brooklyn, N.Y., launched last year as a boutique class-action and civil rights litigation firm. It is involved in another lawsuit concerning glyphosate that was filed April 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division. The lawsuit argues Quaker Oats, a company owned by PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, N.Y., should not promote its oatmeal products as “100% natural” because they allegedly contain glyphosate. 
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