General Mills’ Cereal Bars Are Not 100 Percent Natural
General Mills Inc., a popular Minneapolis-based company, has agreed to discontinue marketing efforts calling the oats in its Nature Valley cereal bars 100 percent natural in order to settle a lawsuit brought by three consumer groups claiming the bars contained small amounts of the pesticide Roundup. Moms Across America and the Organic Consumers Association said the settlement calls for General Mills to remove the phrase “Made with 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats” from Nature Valley labels.
The groups also stated independent tests showed the granola bars contained 0.45 parts per million of glyphosate, and that oats were the “most likely” source of the pesticide. General Mills’ label, they claimed, was deceptive and “no reasonable consumer” would expect the bars to contain anything unnatural given this deceptive wording.
“Nature Valley is confident in the accuracy of its label,” General Mills spokesperson Mike Siemienas said. He added the company settled to avoid the cost of litigation and focus on making its products “with 100 percent whole grain oats.”
The settlement came less than two weeks after a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay a school groundskeeper $289 million for Roundup exposure and another glyphosate herbicide that caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a father of two, applied Roundup close to thirty times per year while working as a pest manager for a county school system and later developed the rare form of cancer. The 46-year-old was first in line to go to trial against the giant company, and a jury found Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed killer was likely cancer-causing.
Johnson claimed his supervisors told him the herbicide was completely safe, but he had to wear protective gear while on the job. “One of the things that stuck out to me the worst is when they told me it was safe enough to drink,” Johnson said. Bayer AG, which now owns Monsanto, has said it would appeal the jury’s verdict.
The General Mills lawsuit is just one of many accusing food companies of using deceptive labels, including terms such as “natural” to get consumers to buy their products because they don’t know any better. The cereal bars are a favorite of those with children and who are on the go and eat them as meal replacements while on the road.
In July 2017, a Minneapolis federal judge dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit over General Mills’ “100% Natural” label, saying that even if the oats contained traces of glyphosate, “there is no allegation that the oats, themselves, are not natural.” A subsequent appeal was dismissed. The consumer groups sued General Mills two years ago in Superior Court in Washington, D.C.
Other companies are also taking heat for including toxic Roundup ingredients in their cereal bars and other edible products. The Organic Consumers Association sued Unilever Plc in the same court on July 9 over its labeling for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, including a claim over the use of glyphosate.
Monsanto had previously stated in court filings, “Every major regulatory agency charged with answering the question has, with the benefit of all the available primary data, concluded that glyphosate is not likely to pose risks of carcinogenicity.”