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ConAgra challenged over “100% natural” claim on Wesson oils

4 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 12-Jul-2011

ConAgra Foods is facing two class action lawsuits that claim the marketing of its Wesson cooking oils as “100% natural” and "pure" is misleading because the oil is extracted from plants that have been genetically modified (GM).

The two lawsuits, one filed in Los Angeles and the other in Brooklyn, seek millions of dollars' worth of refunds for consumers who bought products in ConAgra's Wesson range of cooking oils, as well as a court order preventing the company from labeling the oils as natural. The oils concerned include Wesson-brand corn oil, canola oil, Best Blend and vegetable oil.

According to the complaint, labeling the oils "100% natural" is misleading because GM plants are "unnatural", as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO says: "Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally."

ConAgra does not explicitly state that its Wesson-brand cooking oils are derived from genetically modified plants. However, the complaints point to a section on the ConAgra corporate website regarding biotechnology, which they claim implies that the oils are extracted from GM crops.

The website states: "Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA have concluded that biotech foods that are approved for human consumption are as safe and nutritious as other foods that are developed through more conventional methods...Ultimately, consumers will decide what is acceptable in the marketplace based on the best science and public information available. We will continue to listen carefully to our customers and consumers about biotechnology and provide alternatives for those who demand products without biotechnology ingredients."

No one at Wesson Oils responded to a call for comment prior to publication.

4 comments (Comments are now closed)

As natural as what?

I used Wesson oil for years and had no idea they had chimerically altered the genes in the plants that they derive it from. Now, however, my eyes are opened to their sneaky ways and I will never use Wesson again.

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Posted by Barbara Talbert
11 August 2011 | 21h30

Any questions?

I am Andrei Rado from Milberg LLP, one of the attorneys that represents the plaintiff that filed this lawsuit.

If anyone has any questions about the lawsuit, post them and I will respond.

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Posted by Andrei Rado
11 August 2011 | 20h32

Why not label the bottle as 'natural', too?

If they label the oil from GE plants as "natural", perhaps they might as well label the plastic bottle it comes in as "natural", as well? After all, the plastic is manufactured from petroleum, and petroleum was formed in the earth without human intervention, wasn't it?

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Posted by Jennifer Christiano
19 July 2011 | 19h38

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