The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a class-action lawsuit against General Mills in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, arising out of the company’s packaging and claims for its Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot and Fruit Gushers products. The crux of the lawsuit (gleaned from a CSPI press release quoting language from the complaint):
Labels state those General Mills snacks are “fruit flavored,” “naturally flavored,” a “good source of vitamin C,” and low in calories, fat, and gluten . . . . But obscured on labels is the fact that the so-called fruit snacks are mostly sugars (some from fruit concentrate and some from corn syrup), artificial additives, and potentially harmful artificial dyes. . . .
. . . . Defendant is conveying an overall message of a healthful snack product to parents when, in fact, the Products contain dangerous, non-nutritious, unhealthy partially hydrogenated oil, large amounts of sugar, and potentially harmful artificial dyes.”
As a former false advertising and food regulatory lawyer, I’ll be surprised if CSPI prevails in this lawsuit. General Mills is sure to defend itself on the grounds that the packaging of its products, including any “healthy” claims, is in full compliance with existing FDA regulations.
But what do you think about lawsuits like this one? Do you think reasonable parents ought to be savvy enough to know that a “fruit snack” isn’t the equivalent of real fruit? Do you think the disclosure of ingredients on a label, along with the required nutrition facts, puts parents on fair notice? Or do you think the overarching “healthy” message conveyed by General Mills’ front-of-box packaging overrides that information and constitutes fraud?
Do You Love The Lunch Tray? ♥♥♥ Then “like” The Lunch Tray! Join over 1,260 TLT fans by “liking” TLT’s Facebook page (or “follow” on Twitter) and you’ll get your Lunch delivered fresh daily, along with bonus commentary, interesting kid-and-food links, and stimulating discussion with other readers.