Environmental and Food System Contamination
Beyond Pesticides, a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., filed suit against Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and its subsidiary Mott’s® LLP for misleading consumers about the nature of its Mott’s® applesauce products. Mott’s® has labeled and advertised products such as Mott’s® Natural Unsweetened Applesauce, Mott’s® Healthy Harvest Applesauce varieties, and other varieties as “Natural” and/or containing “All Natural Ingredients.” The complaint alleges that by advertising and prominently labeling these products as “Natural”, Mott’s® misleads reasonable consumers into assuming that the products do not contain unnatural or synthetic ingredients. Independent lab testing confirmed that Mott’s® applesauce products contain the unnatural substance acetamiprid. Acetamiprid, a synthetic neonictinoid insecticidal neurotoxin that may be hazardous to human development and to animals such as the honeybee, is not “Natural.” These deceptive advertising tactics do not represent a commitment to environmental sustainability and marketing integrity. Plaintiff seeks injunctive and financial relief, including the establishment of a community fund for the benefit of the general public to be used for educational and other charitable purposes relating to consumer awareness of acetamiprid.
Beyond Pesticides v. Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc., and Mott’s LLP
- Natural News, 5/21/17 – “Mott’s sued over labeling pesticide-laced applesauce products “natural””
- Law360, 5/5/17 – “Mott’s Sued Over ‘Natural’ Label On Goods With Pesticides”
- Beyond Pesticides Press Release
Three non-profit organizations brought suit against General Mills, Inc. for the deceptive labeling and marketing of their Nature Valley products. Awareness of the health risks and environmental damage caused by chemical-laden foods is on the rise and has caused a concurrent increase in consumer demand for foods that are natural, whole, and free of chemicals. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for foods that they believe to be more natural. General Mills, aware of this consumer trend, aggressively advertises and promotes its Nature Valley products, particularly their granola bars, as “Made with 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats” and “100% Natural.” However, the complaint alleges, these claims are false, deceptive, and misleading because the Nature Valley products contain the unnatural chemical glyphosate, as confirmed by independent lab testing. Glyphosate is a potent biocide and herbicide that acts as a human endocrine disruptor, with detrimental health effects that are not yet fully understood. General Mills does not disclose that glyphosate is present in their products and misleadingly claims that the products are natural despite the presence of this unnatural chemical. The complaint further alleges that, based on these product representations, a reasonable consumer would not expect Nature Valley products to contain a harmful chemical like glyphosate. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, including a halt to General Mills’ deceptive marketing and a court-ordered corrective advertising campaign to inform the public of the true nature of their products.
- Bloomberg, 8/25/16 – “Is a Granola Bar “Natural” If There’s a Pesticide in It?”
- Consumerist, 8/25/16 – “Lawsuits Claim “100% Natural” Label On Nature Valley Granola Bars Is Deceptive”
- Food Business News, 8/25/16 – “Lawsuit alleges deceptive labeling for Nature Valley”
- Fox News, 8/26/16 – “Nature Valley facing multiple lawsuits over ‘deceptive’ labeling on natural granola bars”
Two non-profit organizations and a consumer representing a putative nationwide class, filed suits against the agrochemical giant Monsanto for deceptive labeling and marketing practices. The main ingredient of Monsanto’s retail Roundup® products, the best-selling residential herbicides in the United States, is glyphosate, an herbicide and biocide that studies show can have detrimental effects on human health, particularly to the gut biome. Monsanto claims that glyphosate targets an enzyme, known as EPSP synthase, that is not found in people or pets. The complaints allege that this is false as the enzyme is found in people and pets and is notably important for the gut bacteria upon which their immune systems rely. The complaints further allege that Monsanto’s representation on the product label that “glyphosate targets an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets” is false, deceptive, and misleading. The company has economically profited and sold products at a premium by deceiving consumers about the potential effects of Roundup®. Plaintiffs seek monetary relief, including, in the non-profit action, the establishment of a fund for the benefit of the general public to be used for educational and other charitable purposes relating to consumer awareness of glyphosate.
Blitz v. Monsanto Company and Scotts MIRACLE-GRO Company
- HuffPost, 6/20/17 – “New Claims Against Monsanto In Consumer Lawsuit Over Roundup Herbicide”
- Law360, 4/10/17 – “Monsanto Hit With False Labeling Suit Over Roundup”
The Organic Consumers Association, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization, brought suit against Post Foods, LLC for deceptive labeling and marketing of its Shredded Wheat cereal products. A consumer class action suit was also filed in New York on the same grounds. Consumers increasingly and consciously seek out natural and healthful food products. Post knowingly markets its Shredded Wheat products as a natural and healthful choice containing only “100% Natural Whole Grain Wheat,” with the benefit of being a “Natural Source of Fiber,” hoping to capture the growing natural-conscious consumer market. Through representations on product labels and their website, Post cultivates its image as a healthful, wholesome, and impurity-free brand. The complaints allege that, contrary to Post’s representations, Shredded Wheat contains the unnatural chemical glyphosate, a potent biocide and herbicide that was declared a probable human carcinogen by the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization. Independent lab testing confirmed the presence of glyphosate, which is not “Natural,” in Shredded Wheat products. The complaints further allege that the company deliberately misleads consumers seeking natural food choices into buying its unnatural cereal products. Plaintiffs seek monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief, including a halt to Post’s misleading marketing practices.
Organic Consumers Association v. Post Foods, LLC
Stephenson v. Post Foods, LLC
- Whole Foods Magazine, 7/11/16 – “Post Holding’s Sued for False “Natural” Claims”
- Law360, 6/23/16 – “Post Foods Hit With 3 Spats Over ‘Natural’ Cereal Claims”
- Takepart, 6/23/16 – “Shredded Wheat: 100 Percent Whole Grain With a Touch of Weed Killer”
- Organic Consumers Association Press Release
In suits filed in California and Washington, DC, consumers (on behalf of a putative class) and two non-profit organizations, respectively, brought claims against the Sioux Honey Association for falsely labeling their Sue Bee honey products as “Pure,” “100% Pure,” and “Natural.” Tests conducted by the Food and Drug Administration revealed the presence of glyphosate, a widely used biocide and herbicide produced by Monsanto, in Sue Bee honey products. In 2015, The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” Glyphosate use negatively impacts the environment, biodiversity, public health, and our food supply. The complaints allege Sioux Honey is deceiving consumers by promoting and advertising their products as “Pure” and “ Natural” when they contain this dangerous substance. The complaints further allege that the company’s actions do not represent a commitment to truthful marketing and environmental sustainability. Plaintiffs in both cases seek injunctive relief to halt the false marketing of Sue Bee products and a court-ordered corrective advertising campaign to inform the public of the true nature of the products. Plaintiffs in the consumer class action additionally seek monetary relief for damages as a result of Sioux Honey’s misrepresentations.
Tran v. Sioux Honey Association, Cooperative
- HuffPost, 11/2/16 – “More Bad News for Honey as U.S. Seeks to Get Handle on Glyphosate Residues in Food”