NEW YORK — A lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against The Kellogg Co. alleging the Battle Creek, Mich.-based company of using “false and misleading” labeling on its Cheez-It whole grain crackers.
Cheez-It whole grain crackers are “virtually indistinct nutritionally” from Cheez-It original crackers, according to the lawsuit.
“They contain only one gram of dietary fiber per serving,” the lawsuit said, which was filed on behalf of plaintiffs represented in part by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Neither whole grain variety increases whole grains beyond half, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines. Thus, Cheez-It whole grain crackers are not predominantly whole grain, despite the reasonable expectations that Kellogg has created by distinguishing Cheez-It whole grain crackers from other crackers in the Cheez-It product line by denominating them ‘whole grain.’”
The lawsuit stated the labeling language used by Kellogg was similar to that of competitors Mondelez International, Inc. and Pepperidge Farm, Inc. Mondelez offers Nabisco Wheat Thins Whole Grain that are 100% whole grain, as are Nabisco Triscuit crackers. Similarly, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Baked with Whole Grain are predominantly whole grain flour (whole wheat flour being the first ingredient).
“Plaintiffs would not have purchased or paid more for Cheez-It whole grain crackers had they known the product contains more refined grain than whole grain,” the lawsuit said.
The snack crackers primary ingredient listed on the ingredients panel is enriched flour, followed by soybean and palm oil with TBQH, and then whole wheat flour.
Kellogg has said the lawsuit is “completely without merit.”“Our Cheez-It whole grain labels are accurate and in full compliance with F.D.A. regulations,” the company said. “We stand behind our foods and our labels.”