The Kellogg Company has agreed to drop the words "all natural" and "nothing artificial" from the labeling and advertising for some Kashi products, as part of a settlement of a class-action suit. The company also will pay $5 million as part of the settlement.
Filed in California in 2011, the lawsuit accused Kellogg of false advertising, given that some products using those terms included ingredients such as pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), calcium pantothenate (a form of vitamin B5) soy oil processed using hexane, a component of gasoline, according to The New York Times. Though these ingredients occur naturally, food companies and vitamin makers often use synthetic versions to lower costs and guarantee consistent supplies.
Kellogg did not disclose which products would be removing their "all natural" and "nothing artificial" claims. However, the Kashi products listed in the original lawsuit included some of its cereal and granola bars, some GoLean items, and waffles and shakes.
"We stand behind our advertising and labeling practices," Kellogg said in a statement. "We will comply with the terms of the settlement agreement by the end of the year and will continue to ensure our foods meet our high quality and nutrition standards, while delivering the great taste people expect."
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Food and beverage makers have been turning away from "natural" claims as marketing tools, due to the risks of lawsuits and damage to brand reputation that now outweigh the benefits. In 2013, PepsiCo announced it will no longer label its Naked juices as being "all natural," after paying $9 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed the drinks contain artificial ingredients. The company said in an email statement that it uses an "added boost of vitamins" in some of the drinks. However, a lawsuit filed against the company said the vitamins are actually synthetic ingredients, which includes a fiber made by Archer Daniels Midland. While PepsiCo did not confirm or deny that these synthetic fibers are included in the juices, the company dropped the use of the word "natural" until more solid regulatory guidance emerges.
In other Kellogg news, in February the company announced a commitment to work with its global palm oil suppliers to source fully traceable palm oil, “produced in a manner that's environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable.” To do so, the company said it would work through its supply chain — from suppliers to processors to growers — to ensure that its palm oil is sourced from plantations that uphold the company's commitment to protect forests and peat lands, as well as human and community rights.