It appears that even a good company like Barbara’s Bakery may need a nudge to do the right thing. Caught using the ‘natural’ label on certain products that may contain GMO’s, the company vows to mend its ways and certify all its products with the Non-GMO Project.
Barbara’s Bakery ‘Natural’ Label Under Attack
Last month a judge in California approved a class action settlement involving a cereals made by Barbara’s Bakery that allegedly contain GMOs but are labeled as ‘all natural.’ The Barbara’s Bakery settlement joins several high-profile class action suits against companies using “natural’ on their labels. Almost all have been settled or the product companies have lost the lawsuits. The guilty companies have committed marketing sins ranging from — like Barbara’s Bakery — the misuse of the term ‘natural’ despite containing GMOs and chemicals (Naked Juice and Skinnygirl Cocktails) to flagrantly exaggerating health claims (POM Pomegranate Juice and Vitaminwater).
According to Law360.com, Barbara’s has agreed to remove the labels ‘all natural,’ ‘no artificial additives,’ ‘no artificial preservatives’ and ‘no artificial flavors’ from its packaging on foods that contain GMOs or artificial ingredients. The company has already removed GMOs from 31 of its 35 products, has changed a large portion of its packaging and is offering rebates to get products with older packaging off store shelves. Although its unclear how long the page has been up, as of this morning the Barbara’s Bakery website has a page dedicated to their Non-GMO Commitment:
We understand the importance of putting only the best ingredients in your body, which is why we are working closely with the Non-GMO Project to verify all of our products.
The page lists several products that are already GMO-free and ends with the promise to continue adding more products in the coming months.
Frustrated with the FDA, USDA and FTC’s unwillingness to police the term ‘natural,’ some consumer groups feel that litigation is the best way path to stopping the egregious marketing tactic. A few non-profit organizations, such as CSPI and EHG, and law firms (who really make out in these suits), have been at the forefront of the class action lawsuits that have been recently effective in compelling product companies to stop making bogus marketing claims.
The Barbara’s Bakery settlement terms have been praised by some who say that, although part of the settlement, the company is going the extra step by volunteering/agreeing to use costly third-party verification such as the Non-GMO Project. The move is seen as an example of a company filling the gap left by the government.