Six weeks after a judge allowed a similar lawsuit vs Whole Foods over its use of leavening agent sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP) in ‘all-natural’ products to proceed in California (click HERE), a similar lawsuit has been filed in Arkansas.
In the latest complaint, plaintiff Connie Stafford says Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Cola is labeled as ‘all-natural’ but contains caramel coloring, tartaric acid, citric acid and carbon dioxide; while its 365 Everyday Value Ginger Ale and Root Beer contain caramel coloring, citric acid and carbon dioxide.
Stafford, who filed her lawsuit just days after a judge approved a $3.4m settlement of a lawsuit accusing Trader Joe’s of falsely advertising products as ‘all natural’, said: “Consumers reasonably expect that products carrying an ‘all-natural’ claim must not contain any artificial flavoring, color ingredients, chemical preservatives, or artificial or synthetic ingredients, and be only minimally processed by a process that does not fundamentally alter the raw product.
“A reasonable consumer would understand that ‘natural’ products do not contain synthetic, artificial or excessively processed ingredients. The label on the Whole Foods products - aside from being unlawful under Arkansas law - is also misleading, deceptive, unfair and fraudulent.”
All-natural label is misleading, deceptive, unfair and fraudulent, alleges plaintiff
Stafford also alleges that Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Organic Tomato Ketchup and 365 Everyday Value Organic Chicken are misbranded:
“Defendant unlawfully labeled some of its food products as being ‘Organic’ when they actually contain non-organic ingredients… A reasonable consumer would understand that ‘organic’ products do not contain synthetic, artificial or excessively processed ingredients.”
Attorney: A complaint must state facts, not mere conclusions
While Stafford’s concerns about whether the Whole Foods beverages are ‘all-natural’ echo those in scores of other lawsuits (which cash in on the fact that there is no legal definition of ‘natural’) her concerns about the organic products are unusual in that there are defined standards underpinning products certified as organic, leaving little room for confusion.
With this in mind, it is odd that Stafford doesn’t specify which ingredients or processing methods she takes issue with in the two organic products cited in the complaint, say attorneys.