The phrases “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial” have helped sell plenty of boxes of Kashi and Bear Naked products, but not for long. Parent company Kellogg has lost a class-action suit that claimed man-made products including pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate and soy oil processed with hexane were found in the food products. As a result, Kellogg will drop its “natural” positioning from the products and pay out a $5 million settlement.
Kashi and Bear Naked are just the latest brands to take a hit for their nutrition claims amid a surge of health-conscious consumers. Part of the problem, the New York Times notes, is that the FDA has yet to develop a definition for use of the word “natural” on food products, which is why companies have been quick to use it in a marketplace filled with consumers who are interested in leading healthier lives.
Other brands that have had to reel in their nutrition claims include Frito-Lay, which changed its “Simply Natural” line of chips to just “Simply” and Quaker, which shifted from “Natural Quaker Granola” to “Simply Quaker Granola.” Recently, Chobani was pulled off shelves at Whole Foods because of claims that it contains GMOs, while PepsiCo had to ditch “all natural” from its Naked Juice line last year and Ben & Jerry’s—a brand revered for its natural ingredients—had to drop the claim from its packaging.[more]
Meanwhile, another major brand is facing the Supreme Court in an ongoing battle over nutrition and health claims. POM Wonderful, the makers of POM pomegranate juice, have been trying to appeal a decision by the FTC that barred the brand from making health claims without conducting two human clinical trials. The Court of Appeals is likely to hold up the decision, according to the Wall Street Journal, but may see that the FTC reduce the prohibitions placed on the company, as some may inhibit free speech.
Food products aren’t the only ones facing scrutiny over health claims. Vibram, the maker of the “barefoot running shoe” agreed this week to settle a class-action suit that alleges that “there’s no scientific evidence behind its claims that its FiveFingers shoes encourage a more natural running stride that reduces foot injuries and strengthens muscles,” according to the Washington Post. The admission will cost Vibram $3.75 million in refunds—and a new marketing campaign.