Companies drop "natural" label

This article was originally published in February 2014

Foods labeled “natural” are starting to disappear as a growing number of food companies are removing the claim from packages. The reason? Food companies are being sued for false advertising.

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), at least 100 lawsuits have been filed in the past couple of years challenging “natural” labels on foods from Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s), Kellogg’s (Kashi), Beam Inc. (Skinnygirl alcohol drinks) and many other brands.

Some of the lawsuits reportedly have been thrown out, while others have resulted in multi-million-dollar settlements. The litigation is complex because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not set a legal definition of the term “natural.”

WSJ reports that only 22.1 percent of food products and 34 percent of beverage products introduced in the United States during the first half of 2013 claimed to be “natural,” down from 30.4 percent and 45.5 percent, respectively.

See the Sound Consumer cover story next month for a detailed update on “natural” lawsuits.

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