California Judge Denies Request For Dismissal In Whole Foods Product Liability Lawsuit

09-09-2014
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A California judge has ruled against a request for dismissal by Whole Foods in a product liability case, originally filed in November 2013 by plaintiff Mary Garrison, alleging that the high end grocery chain unlawfully put misleading labels on muffins and other baked goods sold in store.

The baked goods are said to contain an unnatural synthetic leavening agent called Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (SAPP), which is linked as a contributing factor to osteoporosis when consumed in large quantities. Since they are labeled as “all natural,” Garrison claims that Whole Foods has been deceptively labeling their products.
Whole Foods countered by saying that the labels aren’t proven to be deceiving, because they were “pre-empted by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act,” but the judge disagreed, saying that the words “all natural” could be interpreted “to exclude synthetic compounds such as SAPP, and therefore [consumers] could be misled by Whole Foods’ labeling.”

This isn’t the only recent class action product liability lawsuit against a major California grocery chain. This past spring, a federal judge ordered Trader Joe’s to pay a $3.4 million settlement for falsely advertising certain products containing SAPP as “all natural,” or “100% natural.” Other chemicals such as ascorbic acid, alkali, vegetable mono, diglycerides, and xantham gum were found under the “all natural” label at Trader Joe’s.

These cases are just a few of the recent outcry against companies wrongfully and unlawfully labeling their products. Huge food producing company, Kellogg, has been ordered to change labels on all brands including Kashi and Bear Naked, and pay millions of dollars in civil penalties. Foods containing genetically modified allergy inducing ingredients including pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, and hexane-processed soy oil had “nothing artificial,” and “100% pure and natural,” on their boxes.

Since the FDA “has repeatedly declined to adopt formal regulations regarding the meaning of the word natural,” and shows no promise in addressing the issue anytime soon, it is difficult to determine what contains natural ingredients and what contains genetically modified synthetic ingredients. With so many food allergies and diseases popping up due to consumption of genetically modified foods, it is important that we know the ingredients in the food we eat truly match the “all natural” label most companies place on their products.

If you feel the labels of any product you buy are deceiving and unlawful, the product liability attorneys of Hodes Milman Liebeck can provide you with the assistance you need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call 866-730-1976 for a complimentary case evaluation.

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