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.
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.
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.)
- Tell Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim, aka Scooper Man: ‘Roundup-Ready’ Ice Cream is not ‘natural,’ or ‘socially responsible.’ Go Organic!