October 17th, 2011
Fruit Suit: General Mills Faces Deceptive Advertising Lawsuit for Fruit Snacks
By Katy Bachman
Charging that General Mills is misleading consumers about the nutrition and health qualities of its Fruit Snacks, the Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a class action suit in the U.S. District Court in the northern district of California.
“General Mills is giving consumers the false impression that these products are somehow more wholesome, and charging more. It’s an elaborate hoax on parents who are trying to do right by their kids,” says Steve Gardner, an attorney with Dallas-based Seema Rattan and the litigation director for CSPI, a Washington, D.C.-based health advocacy group that is also pushing for new voluntary federal guidelines for marketing food to children.
“General Mills is basically dressing up a very cheap candy as if it were a fruit and charging a premium for it.”
In its complaint, CSPI alleges that the labeling on the packages for the products—Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot, and Fruit Gushers specifically—imply that the food is a lot healthier than it really is. Fruit Snacks are labeled as “fruit flavored snack,” “naturally flavored, a “good source of Vitamin C”, a low number of calories, “low fat,” and “gluten free.”
The suit cites several California laws governing misleading and deceptive advertising and fraudulent business practices, as well as Minnesota’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. (General Mills is based in Golden Valley, Minn.)
“In fact, Defendant’s Fruit Snacks contained trans fat, added sugars, and artificial food dyes; lacked significant amounts of real, natural fruit; and had no dietary fiber. Thus, although the Products were marketed as being healthful and nutritious for children and adults alike, selling these Fruit Snacks was little better than giving candy to children,” the complaint reads.
General Mills said it had yet to be served with any lawsuit.
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