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Court Rules Against General Mills Motion to Dismiss, Says It’s Reasonable Consumers Wouldn’t Consider Glyphosate-Containing Nature Valley Granola Bars ‘Natural’

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On Monday, Moms Across America, Organic Consumers Association, and Beyond Pesticides announced that the District of Columbia Superior Court rejected General Mills’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the three nonprofits against the maker of Nature Valley granola bars. That’s a small win, but a win nonetheless.

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That ruling upholds the right of non-profits to bring these types of complaints against corporations and “reinforces the notion that consumers can reasonably expect a product labeled “100% Natural” to be free of herbicides.”1 As it should.

In 2016, the three non-profit groups sued General Mills for attempting to mislead the public (I have a friend who bought those granola bars for her son for a year. She was mad.) by labeling Nature Valley granola bars as “Made with 100% NATURAL whole grain OATS” after tests revealed the presence of glyphosate.

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Organic Consumers Association’s international director Ronnie Cummins said about the suit,

“This is a huge win for consumers. in making this ruling, the judge reinforced the right of consumers to have reasonable expectations about what a company means by ‘natural.’ The ‘natural’ food industry is estimated at $90 billion a year. By slapping the word ‘natural’ on products that contain pesticides and other unnatural substances, corporations deceive consumers, and cut into the market share for authentically labeled healthy and certified organic products.” 2

A couple of key findings from the DC Superior Court ruling:3

  • The Court rejected General Mills’ argument that courts should defer to the FDA on possible future ruling re: “natural” food labeling (that means the court continues to decide what is or isn’t misleading to consumers).
  • The Court noted it doesn’t seem likely the FDA will issue a ruling on what “natural” means anytime soon (this means many food producers seeking to avoid liability for their misrepresentations have to deal now).
  • The Court held that a reasonable jury could find that General Mills’ “Made With 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats” claims were misleading to consumers.(This one just seems so obvious.)
Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, said, “When a customer chooses a food product that says 100% Natural on the packaging, they do so because the food manufacturer has communicated to them, with that claim, that their products are without harmful, man-made chemicals. We are very pleased that this case will be heard and misleading labeling will be addressed.” 4
We will continue to watch this trial and update you when more information becomes available.
Check out this Vegan, no-bake granola bar recipe:

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