Nature Valley Not So Natural, Lawsuit Claims

on August 1, 2012 11:28 AM EDT

Granola Bar
People who buy Nature Valley Granola Bars thinking they are 100 percent natural are being misled, two California mothers are claiming (Photo: Creative Commons)

People who buy Nature Valley Granola Bars thinking they are 100 percent natural are being misled, two California mothers are claiming. The two women have filed suit against the company, claiming the company has deceptively marketed its products.

The women are seeking to turn the lawsuit into a class action suit, which would win all of the profits the company has gained by selling the products. But one of the women, Amy McKendrick, told the New York Times that she only wants to make other people aware of Nature Valley's practices.

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"I've figured out now that something can say it's 100 percent natural on the outside and not be 100 percent natural," McKendrick said. "I want to make sure other people making purchases understand that, too."

Surveys have shown that consumers prefer foods described as "natural," according to the New York Times. The words "nature" and "natural" appear on the granola bar's packaging alongside images of trees and wildlife.

"General Mills seeks to capitalize on consumers' preference for all-natural foods and the association between such foods and a wholesome way of life," the lawsuit claims. "Consumers are willing to pay more for natural foods because of this association, as well as the perceived higher quality, health and safety benefits and low impact on the environment associated with products labeled as 'natural.' "

The ingredients in question are high fructose corn syrup and high maltose corn syrup, both sweeteners, and maltodextrin, a thickener.

"High maltose corn syrup and maltodextrin are highly processed, do not exist in nature and not even under the most elastic possible definition could they be considered 'natural,' "Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group that is serving co-counsel to the two women, told the New York Times.

McKendrick said she tries to serve her family only natural foods after her daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD, and was appalled to find out the granola bars were anything but.

"Everything we eat is organic or all natural," she said. "I've cut out all additives, preservatives, dye, everything, and after two years of doing that, she's been released from all those diagnoses, all of them."

"I was shocked," McKendrick said. "It's false advertising."

General Mills said they were not aware of a lawsuit at this time.

"We are aware of the press release, but to our knowledge, we have not been served with a lawsuit," Kirstie Foster, a spokeswoman for General Mills, told the New York Times.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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