Putative Class Action Filed Against Organic Milling for Allegedly False “100% Natural” Claims
A plaintiff has accused cereal company Organic Milling of mislabeling its Nutritious Living Hi-Lo brand cereals as “100% natural” despite allegedly containing synthetic and heavily processed ingredients and being produced with genetically modified (GM) crops. Mirto v. Organic Milling, No. BC553780 (Super. Ct. Cal., Los Angeles Cty., filed Aug. 5, 2014). The complaint alleges first that the use of GM crops in the cereal’s production precludes the company from using the phrase “100% natural” on its marketing materials, citing definitions from the World Health Organization and Environmental Protection Agency to argue that “GM crops are not ‘natural,’ and products made from these crops, including [Organic Milling’s products], are not ‘100% natural.’”
The complaint further argues that Organic Milling’s use of canola oil in Hi-Lo cereal is not “100% natural” either because of the heavy processing required to produce the oil. The plaintiff also objects to the use of emulsifier soy protein isolate and sweetener evaporated cane juice in products carrying a “100% natural” label. This alleged mislabeling, she argues, amounts to violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and a breach of express warranty. She seeks class certification—for a class defined as California purchasers of Hi-Lo Original Flavor or Strawberry since August 4, 2010—attorney’s fees, an injunction, and actual, punitive and statutory damages.