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General Mills’ agreement to change Fruit Roll-Ups labeling is a ‘step in the right direction’, says CSPI

By Kacey Culliney , 04-Jan-2013

Labeling changes set for 2014 welcomed by CSPI
Labeling changes set for 2014 welcomed by CSPI

General Mills has taken a ‘step in the right direction’ as it agrees to improve its Fruit Roll-Up labeling in light of a class action lawsuit, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has said.

The US food giant has negotiated an agreement with CSPI to remove strawberry imagery and list the percentage of fruit content on its Strawberry Naturally Flavored Fruit Roll-Ups. Both changes will take effect in 2014, resolving the lawsuit.

General Mills settled the changes in light of a class action lawsuit brought against it by a consumer last year that alleged the range and its Fruit by the Foot products mislead consumers into believing the snacks are healthful.

The allegations said that packaging stating ‘made with real fruit’ and depicting strawberries incorrectly described the ingredients in the strawberry-flavored product made with ‘pears from concentrate’.

Stripping strawberries

The new agreement stipulates that so long as the product continues not to contain strawberries, the new labels will not depict images of the fruit and so long as the product’s label carries the claim ‘made with real fruit’ it will be required to list the actual percentage of fruit in the product.

Steve Gardner, CSPI litigation director, said: “By stating the actual percentage of fruit in the product, these labels will be less likely to lead consumers to believe that the product is all or mostly fruit.”

“A more accurate name for the product would be Pear Naturally Flavored Fruit Roll-Ups, since pear is present and strawberry is absent. But the removal of pictures of strawberries is a step in the right direction. We are pleased to have worked cooperatively with General Mills to reach this agreement.” 

Strawberry Naturally Flavored Roll-Ups content in descending order according to amount

Pears from Concentrate, Corn Syrup, Dried Corn Syrup, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Acetylated Monoglycerides, Fruit Pectin, Dextrose, Malic Acid, Vitamin C (absorbic acid), Natural Flavor, Color (red 40, yellows 5 & 6, blue 1).

‘Elaborate hoax on parents’

The CSPI litigation director previously described General Mills’ Roll-Ups range as an “elaborate hoax on parents who are trying to do right by their kids”.

“General Mills is basically dressing up a very cheap candy as if it were fruit and charging a premium for it,” he said last year when the lawsuit was initiated.

General Mills could not be reached for comment outside of business hours and prior to publication.

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