A California resident has filed a putative class action against General Mills, Inc., alleging that its “100% Natural” labeling and advertising for products such as Nature Valley® Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunchy Granola Bars are misleading because the products contain ingredients grown from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Rojas v. General Mills, Inc., No. 12-5099 (N.D. Cal., filed October 1, 2012). Contending that the soy, yellow corn flour, soy flour, and soy lecithin in the granola bars are GMO ingredients, the plaintiff does not request that the defendant provide a GMO disclosure; rather, he “only requests Defendant to remove the ‘100% NATURAL’ labeling from its Product.”

While the plaintiff’s alleged harm is purely economic, i.e., he did not get the benefit of his bargain, he alleges that GMOs “pose a potential threat to consumers because medical research and scientific studies have yet to determine the long-term health effects of genetically engineered foods.” He compares shoppers not wishing to consume GMOs with people who follow restricted diets for religious or moral reasons or those who “physically cannot eat certain foods” due to allergies.

Seeking to certify a statewide class of consumers, the plaintiff alleges violations
of California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law and
Consumers Legal Remedies Act. He asks the court to enjoin the defendant
from making product claims that violate these laws, and seeks restitution,
disgorgement, actual and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, costs, and
interest.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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