Like so many food companies under fire for misleading consumers with the term ‘natural’ on their product labels, Gerber has successfully tried to get a false ‘natural’ labeling lawsuit dismissed.
Last week a judge in California dismissed in part a lawsuit against Gerber baby food that alleges that they have made false and misleading claims on their food labels. The class action suit identified misleading Gerber products as Nature Select 2nd Foods, Yogurt Blends Snack, Toddler Fruit Strips, Graduates Puffs, Graduates Wagon Wheels and Graduates Lil’ Crunchies. Labels on the products are allegedly misleading in that they purport to represent a good source of Vitamin C and E, Iron and Zinc, and support “healthy growth and development.” The lawsuit also challenges the claims on labels for Gerber baby foods that describe the product as “excellence source,” “good source,” “as healthy as fresh, “no added sugar” and “natural.”
Gerber Labels Must Be Read ‘In Context’
While the judge ruled largely in favor of Gerber, the really disturbing part is that Gerber, which is owned by Nestle USA, won by disputing that they made any “100% Natural claims.” According to the company, the Gerber baby food labels in question state that the products are “Made with 100% natural fruit” which ‘is truthful and must be read in context.’ In other words, what dumb consumer would assume the whole product is 100% natural?
From the case document:
[The plaintiff] fails to explain why a label claiming that a product is ‘Made with 100% Natural Fruit‘ plausibly implies that the entire product – which contains ingredients other than fruit – is free of synthetic ingredients or ingredients not normally expected to be in food. Thus, [the plaintiff] fails to set forth why a reasonable consumer would find defendants’ labels to be false and misleading.
According to the ruling the plaintiff has 30 days to amend the claims under California’s unfair competition law, false advertising law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act.