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Kellogg settles Kashi food labeling lawsuit

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Kellogg, breakfast cereal king and owner of the Kashi brand, has agreed to settle a lawsuit over its use of the words “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial” on the labeling of certain Kashi products, according to a New York Times publication from May 8, 2014.

The lawsuit was initiated because these terms signifying that all ingredients in a product are natural, without exception. But analysis shows that some Kashi food items contain unnatural chemical additives such as pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, hexane-processed soy ingredients, ascorbic acid, glycerin and sodium phosphate.

With the newfound emphasis on organic and natural ingredients, many parents rely on food labels to guide them. When parents and other consumers see words such as all natural, they assume it means what it says. Even if the unnatural additives are very small, they still must be noted and food labels should not proclaim the item as all natural.

Kellogg is not the first company to be challenged in court for misleading labels. Pepsi has been challenged several times, most recently over its Naked juice line. Pepsi’s Naked juices claim to be all natural, but a lawsuit against Pepsi pointed out that they do, indeed, contain artificial ingredients, Pepsi agreed to drop these words to settle the lawsuit.

In a related move, Pepsi dropped the word “natural” from its Simply Natural Frito- Lay chips and changed the name of its Natural Quaker Granola to Simply Quaker Granola. These changes were brought about by the increasing frequency of legal challenges to food labeling practices.

Kellogg will pay $5 million to settle this lawsuit and it has agreed to change its labeling on certain Kashi food items. It will no longer label items as all natural if they contain added chemicals. This is great news for parents and other consumers who rely on accurate labeling to make informed buying decisions. But everyone should still remain vigilant when assessing food quality. If a food is processed and packaged, there could still be some artificial ingredients present and until the Food and Drug Administration can come to a definitive agreement on what constitutes natural food, it will be up to the consumer to make that determination.

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