The popular natural and organic foods chain Whole Foods has gained an incredible position in one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, but now the Austin, Texas-based chain will be facing a new challenge.
A class-action lawsuit over “all-natural” claims will be allowed to go forward, California U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria has ruled.
Chhabria made the ruling on June 2 in regards to the case, which was filed in November of 2013 by plaintiffs Mary Garrison et al.
The lawsuit centers around the use of an ingredient called Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (SAPP), which is a synthetic leavening agent used in muffins and other baked goods that were sold in Whole Foods stores.
The plaintiffs are arguing that labeling such baked goods as “all-natural” is deceptive
According to an article by Food Navigator, Chhabria refused to allow arguments that the “all natural” claims were preempted by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The judge noted that customers could well interpret the word “all-natural” to reasonably exclude synthetic compounds including the leavening agent in question, and were therefore mislead by Whole Foods’ labeling.
Claims have now been given the go-ahead on behalf of class members who purchased any of six Whole Foods products that were allegedly mislabeled; Garrison had only purchased three of the items herself according to the Food Navigator article, however.
False “All-Natural” Whole Foods Lawsuit Just One of Many Similar Cases
According to an article from the website Organic Authority, Trader Joe’s was also hit with a similar lawsuit for false advertising of all natural products, which contained ingredients including ascorbic acid, xanthan gum, cocoa processed with alkali, vegetable mono- and diglycerides; as well as the leavening agent SAPP in question in the Whole Foods lawsuit.
Other recent settlements were awarded to customers who purchased cereals from Barbara’s Bakery over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as part of the ingredients, and Pepsi’s Naked Juice for similar reasons.