Category Archives: labeling

Kellogg’s dropping “Natural” labeling on certain Kashi products in response to another lawsuit

Kellogg's Drops Natural Claims from Certain Kashi ProductsThe latest in an unending series of manufacturer responses to lawsuits regarding false “natural” claims …

Cereal giant Kellogg’s says it will no longer use the labels “All Natural” or “Nothing Artificial” on certain Kashi products as part of an agreement to settle a class-action lawsuit. The company will also pay $5 million to settle the suit.

In a statement, Kashi’s corporate parent, Kellogg Co. said it stood by its advertising and labeling practices but that it would change its formulas or labels nationally by the end of the year.

The suit had accused Kashi of misleading people by using the phrase “All Natural” or “Nothing Artificial” on products that contained a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients. Among the ingredients listed in the suit were pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, hexane-processed soy ingredients, ascorbic acid, glycerin and sodium phosphate.

The settlement was filed May 2 in U.S. District Court in California and is subject to court approval.

As people look to stick to diets they feel are wholesome, companies have flooded supermarket shelves with products marketed as being “natural.” But more recently, numerous lawsuits have challenged their use of the term on products that contain ingredients some say don’t fit that definition.

The mounting legal challenges have prompted several companies to remove the word from packaging. PepsiCo Inc., for instance, changed its “Simply Natural” line of Frito-Lay chips to “Simply,” even though the ingredients didn’t change. Likewise, its “Natural Quaker Granola” was changed to “Simply Quaker Granola.”

PepsiCo also agreed to remove the words “all natural” from its Naked juices to settle a lawsuit that noted the drinks contained artificial ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration says it doesn’t have an official definition for the term “natural,” noting that a food product has likely been processed and is “no longer the product of the earth.” But the agency notes that it has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.

While FoodFacts.com certainly understands the FDA’s stance regarding artificial colors and flavors, we do wonder about their definition of synthetic substances. And yes, they are right about food products likely having been processed, but we’d love for them to take a good look at the ingredient lists for some organic and gluten-free food products. While some of these packaged organic and gluten-free foods could technically be called processed, their ingredient lists look nothing like their counterparts. We have to believe that if some manufacturers can manage to use ingredients that can easily be defined as natural, they probably all can. That said, we also think that the FDA can come up with a definition for natural that could bring an end to the false claims — and the lawsuits.

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/suit-prompts-kelloggs-drop-natural-labels-kashi-products-n100391

10 ways food labels mislead consumers

Day after day we learn more about how misleading food labels continue to dupe consumers with keywords and bold statements that feed into people’s dietary needs and weight loss goals. This doesn’t mean all food labels are lying because plenty of products are “fat free” or made with “real fruit,” but what about the other nutritional facts or ingredients?

Foodfacts.com observes that, unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate all food labels and cannot keep food manufacturers from using clever wording to avoid a potential lawsuit. What you can do is read the nutritional facts and ingredients list to find the truth behind the fancy wording and manipulative marketing. Here are 10 misleading food labels to look out for:

* “Zero grams trans fat”
Since trans fat have become the ultimate no-no in today’s diet, many companies have cut trans fat from their products. However, it has led way to a manipulative marketing move to promote 0 grams of trans fat, without indicating the product’s level of saturated and total fat. Food labels know people are looking for the label that says “0 grams trans fat,” but they may skip over the saturated and total fat amount, which is just as important.

* “All natural”
The “all natural” stamp is one of the most abused and misleading food labels used by food manufacturers today. Many of these so-called “all natural” products use citric acid, high-fructose corn syrup and other unnatural additives, but still get to bear that positive label. Always check the ingredients list to know exactly what’s in your food.

* “Whole grains”
Chances are you’ve seen the label, “Made with Whole Grains,” pop up on bread, crackers or rice products now more than ever. The reality is that many of these whole grain products are actually made with refined wheat flour and maybe a small percentage of whole grains. In order to check the validity of the whole grains label, check out the listed ingredients. Unless “whole grains” is one of the first ingredients on the list or if you see “enriched wheat flour,” it’s likely that your product contains a small percentage of whole grains.

* “Fiber”
Food products that contain fiber has become a growing trend in the food industry because consumers are looking for foods that are going to keep them fuller for longer, help regulate their digestive systems and lower their blood sugar. Shoppers might see their favorite cereal bar or yogurt is labeled “a good source of fiber,” but they won’t see where the fiber comes from listed anywhere. Many of the products you find with the label “contains fiber” actually contain isolated fibers, like inulin, maltodextrin, pectin, gum and other purified powders that are added to boost the not-so-fibrous foods.

* “Light”
When a food label says “light” as in “extra light olive oil,” consumers are misled to think that a product is light in fat or the fat content has been cut in half. Unless the product says reduced fat, “light” is generally referring to a lighter color of the original product, such as light-colored olive oil.

* “Heart healthy”
Many of today’s foods claim to be “heart healthy,” but don’t have FDA approval or scientific evidence to support such bold claims. These types of “heart healthy” labels mislead consumers into thinking they will improve their heart health by eating this particular food. Considering that heart disease is the number one killer in America, this food label is dangerous to promote if it’s not true.

* “Low fat”
The label “low fat” can be very misleading to consumers because, while it may be low in fat, it may also be loaded with sugar or sodium that won’t be highlighted. In addition, manufacturers are playing into people’s awareness of fats and efforts to lower their fat intake by advertising exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t be fooled by a “low fat” food label without examining the rest of the nutrition facts, and making sure that the product is well-balanced and healthy in its other areas.

* “Low sugar”
Just like “low fat” indicators, “low sugar” food labels are misleading for consumers because it plays up one nutritional factor to downplay a not-so-healthy factor, such as a high amount of calories, sugars or fat. Manufacturers also get around saying “contains sugar” by saying “lightly sweetened” or “no sugar added,” but you have to look at how much sugar is in each serving to know for sure.

* “Free range”
The “free range” food label can be found on meat, dairy and eggs at your local grocery store, but this progressive way of farming is not always as it seems. What consumers may not know and won’t see on their “free range” foods is that the USDA regulations only apply to poultry. Therefore, “free range” beef, pork and other non-poultry animals were fed grass and allowed to live outdoors, but their products are not regulated by the USDA. Another misconception consumers have about “free range” is that these products are also organic. Unless it’s labeled free range AND organic, free range animals may be fed nonorganic fed that could contain animal byproducts and hormones.

* “Fresh”
The “fresh” food label can be very misleading to consumers, by making them think their chicken was killed the day before, or their “freshly squeezed” orange juice was prepared that day. The label “fresh” simply means that it was not frozen or is uncooked, but many of these products are allowed to be chilled, kept on ice or in modified atmospheres to keep them from spoiling.

Foodfacts.com does not endorse specific views about nutrition or exercise, but presents interesting news and information worth reading about. As always, consult a physician or nutrition professional before making any major changes to your diet. Be sure to SCORE your foods so that you’re empowered to make good food choices. The Food Facts Health Score is FREE to use with your free membership at Foodfacts.com.

ConAgra Lawsuit: GMO’s are NOT Natural

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Foodfacts.com would like to report that ConAgra is being sued for labeling “natural” on their GMO infested Wesson oils. As we all know, there is nothing natural about genetic modification. In fact, Monsanto itself defines their biotechnology as “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.” Consumers are rallying together to take down ConAgra. Maybe this will be another closer step towards GMO-labeling? Check out the story below!
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If you use Wesson brand cooking oils, you may be able to join a class action against food giant ConAgra for deceptively marketing the products as natural.

These days it’s hard to walk down a supermarket aisle without bumping into a food product that claims to be “all-natural.” If you’ve ever wondered how even some junk food products can claim this moniker (witness: Cheetos Natural Puff White Cheddar Cheese Flavored Snacks – doesn’t that sound like it came straight from your garden?) the answer is simple if illogical: the Food and Drug Administration has not defined the term natural.

So food marketers, knowing that many shoppers are increasingly concerned about healthful eating, figured: why not just slap the natural label on anything we can get away with? That wishful thinking may soon be coming to an end if a few clever consumer lawyers have anything to say about it.

While various lawsuits have been filed in recent years claiming that food companies using the term natural are engaging in deceptive marketing, a suit filed in June in California against ConAgra could make the entire industrial food complex shake in its boots.

The plaintiff claims he relied on Wesson oils “100% natural” label, when the products are actually made from genetically modified organisms.

GMOs Not Exactly Natural, So Says Monsanto

Ironically, the complaint cites a definition of GMOs by none other than Monsanto, the company most notorious for its promotion of the technology. According to Monsanto, GMOs are: “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.”

The complaint also quotes a GMO definition from the World Health Organization: “Organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.”

Four Wesson varieties are implicated in the case: Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, and Best Blend. And it’s not just on the label that ConAgra is using the natural claim, but also online and in print advertisements. (Additional silly health claims on the website include “cholesterol free”–vegetable oils couldn’t possibly contain cholesterol anyway.)

The complaint describes the extent of ConAgra’s deception, alleging the “labels are intended to evoke a natural, wholesome product.” And further:
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The “100% Natural” statement is, like much of the label on Wesson Oils, displayed in vibrant green. The “Wesson” name is haloed by the image of the sun, and the Canola Oil features a picture of a green heart.

A green heart — you just can’t get any healthier than that. However, as registered dietitian Andy Bellatti told me: “These oils are high in omega 6 fatty acids, which in excessive amounts are actually bad for your heart.” Guess they left that part out of the green heart icon.

Supermarkets Chock-full of GMOs

But what makes this lawsuit especially intriguing is its potentially far-ranging impact. According to the Center for Food Safety: “upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves — from soda to soup, crackers to condiments — contain genetically-engineered ingredients.” While it’s unclear how many of these products also claim to be natural, given all the green-washing going on these days, it’s likely to number in the thousands.

Specifically, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans, both extremely common ingredients in processed foods. Numerous groups including the Center for Food Safety have been calling attention to the potential hazards of GMOs for years. From their website:

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer.

Not exactly the stuff that green hearts are made of. The legal complaint also notes that on its corporate website (“but not on the Wesson site that consumers are more likely to visit”), ConAgra implies that its oils are genetically engineered. The company concludes: “Ultimately, consumers will decide what is acceptable in the marketplace based on the best science and public information available.”

But by being told the oils are “100% natural,” consumers can no longer make an informed decision as they are being misled.

Which reminds me of a great quote from Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser: “If they have to put the word ‘natural’ on a box to convince you, it probably isn’t.”

The Deal on Food Allergies – How to Avoid Potential Reactions

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

In the US alone, approximately 15 million people currently live with a food allergy. Of the 15 million, 6 million are children. Peanut allergies in children alone have tripled between 1997 and 2008; and more children are being diagnosed with life-threatening allergies. These numbers have been drastically increasing over recent decades for reasons which are poorly understood.
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There are eight major foods that account for approximately 90% of all food-allergy reactions in the U.S.: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Even the smallest trace of these foods can trigger a reaction for someone with a food allergy. If you don’t understand the biological mechanism, we can help summarize it:

• All foods contain proteins. Proteins are normally the component that trigger an allergic reaction.
• Some proteins are resistant to digestion in the digestive tract.
• When these undigested proteins pass through the body, Immunoglobulin IgE (an allergy related antibody), targets the protein as harmful to alert the immune system of its presence.
• The immune system then triggers a reaction to help rid/destroy the protein, which can range from a mild to severe reaction.

Currently, there is no cure for food allergies. Most people with a food allergy must stick to a lifelong avoidance of food allergens. Also, they must learn the signs and symptoms of reactions before a potentially dangerous situation. Early recognition and management of allergic reactions to foods are critical steps that must be taken to avoid serious health-related complications.
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How to avoid potential reactions:

Read Food Labels. Carefully go through all ingredients on the nutrition panel to search for any signs of a potential food allergen. Under the Food Allergen Labeling and consumer Protection Act of 2004, it is required that all nutrition labels list specific sources of ingredients if derived from the major 8 food allergens.
Also, many products are manufactured in one common factory. Most labels will list information pertaining to possible cross-contamination for various foods.

Choose Restaurants Wisely. Many public food establishments cook with the major 8 food allergens on a daily basis. However, there are some restaurants that cater to those with food allergies. Do your research to find an eating spot you find safe. Read reviews, call managers, talk to friends; get the information on the establishment.

Prepare your own foods. Whether you’re going to school, attending a party, or holding a business meeting, bring your own foods. It’s reassuring to have control of the ingredients in the foods you eat. Also, don’t be embarrassed to provide your own snacks, because there are millions of people with food allergies that do the same thing! Many people are very understanding of these circumstances.

GMO Labeling in California?

Foodfacts.com would like to keep followers updated on the latest news pertaining to GMO labeling, because it has become a major concern for many people. Check out the article below describing California’s next steps in achieving proper labeling for GMO products. Also, for more information on labeling go to Truth in Labeling Coalition.

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(Natural News) Advocates for truth in food labeling will be working diligently this fall to gather enough signatures to get an initiative placed on the 2012 California electoral ballot that, if passed, will mandate that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) be properly labeled within the state.

The measure also has the potential to set a new labeling standard for the rest of the US as well, which could eventually drive GMOs out of the marketplace altogether.

The biotechnology industry and its allies have pumped billions of dollars into lobbying efforts that have effectively prevented every proposal for GMO labeling from moving forward.

While numerous polls have found that at least 90 percent of Americans support the mandatory labeling of GMOs, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and various other federal agencies backed by special interests have repeatedly stood against it (http://www.naturalnews.com/029168_G…).

The Obama administration has also made it very clear that regulating genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) is not a primary concern for the US government, let alone any sort of proper labeling.

Just a few months ago, Obama’s USDA, for instance, willingly and openly deregulated GM alfalfa without an environmental impact report (EIR) or any proper safety studies (http://www.naturalnews.com/031196_G…).

And the administration has also been pushing very hard to get GMOs permitted for planting in national wildlife refuges, which is against the law (http://www.naturalnews.com/032726_G…).

Getting GMOs labeled continues to be an uphill battle — and it may seem like something that will never happen apart from a miracle — but like every other political effort that has ever been successful on a significant level, dedication and strategic planning by grassroots activists just might be the key to victory.

By simply getting a GMO labeling initiative on the California electoral ballot in 2012, half the battle will have already been won. The goal now, though, will be to gain enough signatures to get it on the ballot.

Organic Trade Association board members have ties to GMOs, thus the organization’s silence on the issue
Labeling of GMOs is something that most NaturalNews readers might assume is widely supported by the nation’s organic companies and groups. And this is largely the case except for a few, including the Organic Trade Association (OTA), whose ranks have been tainted by board members with ties to corporations that profit from the sale of GMOs.

OTA’s President Julia Sabin, for instance, is Vice President and General Manager for Smucker Natural Foods, Inc., which uses GM high fructose corn syrup and other GM ingredients in its various jellies and jams. Sabin personally profits from her company’s use of GM ingredients, and yet she holds the highest post at OTA, a group that is supposed to represent the interests of the organic food industry.

While OTA claims to support the labeling of GMOs, the group has never devoted any of its financial resources to actually making this a reality. So this key player in the organic industry has essentially done little to nothing to actually get GMOs labeled in the US, and yet claims at the same time to support GMO labeling.

Be sure to watch this short, informative video about various OTA board members’ connections to GMOs, and learn why OTA has taken a soft stance on GMO labeling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCK0…

After seeing the numerous connections to GMO interests, it will become clear why OTA essentially plays both sides of the fence by saying one thing and doing another.

Speaking about Oregon’s Measure 27 (2002), Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director of the Organic Consumers Association said “The first ballot initiative effort to require food companies to label products that contain genetically-modified (GM) ingredients. The Organic Trade Association ostensibly supported the measure, but didn’t chip in financially. The food and crop biotechnology industries raised a war chest to fight the ballot measure. Ironically, some of these companies already had stakes in organic and some had subsidiaries that were members of OTA.”

Baden-Mayer also stated that “General Mills (currently represented on the OTA board by Craig Weakly of Small Planet Foods), HJ Heinz Co. (invested in the Hain-Celestial Group), PepsiCo (Tropicana and Quaker produce a few organic products), and Kellogg’s (owns Kashi), joined a coalition of corporate giants — the Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law — including chemical makers Monsanto and DuPont, agribusiness ConAgra, food processor Sara Lee, the pesticide lobbying group CropLife, and the junk food lobbying group the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), in spending some $5.5 million to defeat mandatory GMO labels.”

So you see, some of the very same organic companies represented by OTA are also tied to companies that use GMOs. Naturally, these companies are choosing to fight labeling laws that will hurt their bottom line. This is precisely why it will take grassroots support to get the California initiative on the 2012 ballot, and to successfully rally enough support to get it passed.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help gather signatures for the initiative this fall, and get this landmark GMO labeling law passed, visit: http://www.labelGMOs.org

At the site, you will also find access to useful information about organizing and educating people in your community about GMOs, volunteering to help the California campaign, and even starting an initiative to label GMOs in your own state if you do not live in California.