General Mills is dropping the “100 percent natural” claim on their Nature Valley granola bars after settling a lawsuit that claimed their products were contaminated with a potentially carcinogenic weed killer. The August 2016 lawsuit was filed by three consumer groups: Beyond Pesticides, the Organic Consumers Association and Moms Across America.
The complaint brought by the three consumer groups claimed that the CPG company’s Nature Valley granola bars contained trace amounts of glyphosate, which is a commonly used herbicide. General Mills made their announcement after the consumer groups claimed that laboratory testing of their oat-based products had found traces of glyphosate. This is likely due to the fact that most agricultural companies use RoundUp, which a popular pesticide that contains glyphosate, on products such as oats.
“Nature Valley is confident in the accuracy of its label,” General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas said in an email to Reuters.
Although the company agreed to change their label claims, they did not admit to any wrongdoing. Siemienas said that the company would rather focus on making Nature Valley products “with 100 percent whole grain oats” than deal with the cost and distraction of litigation.
Thursday’s settlement came almost two weeks after Monsanto, the maker of RoundUp, was ordered to pay a former school groundkeeper $289 million for potentially contributing to the development of his non-Hodgkins lymphoma. A San Francisco jury agreed that Dewayne Johnson’s cancer was likely caused by his regular exposure to RoundUp and Monsanto failed to warn consumers about the alleged risk of their pesticide. Bayer, the new owner of Monsanto, plans to appeal the jury’s verdict.
This isn’t the first time that General Mills was taken to court for their product ingredients. In fact, in July, a federal judge dismissed a similar lawsuit against the Minneapolis-based company which also claimed that their Nature Valley granola bars are mislabelled as “Made with 100 percent Natural Whole Grain Oats” because they contain traces of glyphosate. Additionally, on Wednesday, a Florida woman filed a class-action lawsuit against the CPG company for allegedly failing to mention that their Cheerios cereal products contained traces of glyphosate.
However, it seems that General Mills is quite good at deterring negative attention towards their products. Considering the fact that Nature Valley bars are the top-selling bars in their category with $985.1 million worth of sales last year, it makes sense that General Mills does not want to risk losing their profits.
However, with the Monsanto case still in the limelight, the company, along with many others, will likely come across similar cases since RoundUp is a very common pesticide in the food industry.