Is it too risky to market foods containing GMOs as 'all-natural'?

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers, market researchers tell us, want foods that are ‘wholesome’, ‘authentic’, and above all ‘natural’, although few of them can articulate what this means. And they are not alone. Regulators have not had much of a stab at defining ‘natural’ either, says Justin Prochnow, an attorney in the Denver office of law firm Greenberg Traurig.

All the FDA has said is that firms can use 'natural' on labels provided it is used in a manner that is truthful and not misleading and the product does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances, observes Prochnow, who caught up with FoodNavigator-USA at Supply Side West in Las Vegas last week.

But what about high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, GMOs and a whole raft of other ingredients that some consumers feel do not belong in a product labeled as ‘all-natural'?

It's down to who the judge believes

If an opportunistic plaintiff's attorney can argue persuasively that his client - and other reasonable consumers - might feel misled if a food containing GMOs or HFCS is marketed as 'natural', he has a case, adds Prochnow.

"And then it's down to who the judge believes​. And this is why so many of these cases are being settled...

"Companies look at it and decide is it really worth spending two years fighting and what could be a million dollars or more on a case that we probably have a 50:50 chance of winning."

Click here​ to read about the class action lawsuit filed against Pepperidge Farm last week over 'natural' claims on Goldfish crackers.

 

Related news

Show more

3 comments

Lawsuits

Posted by Mike,

Justin above says it all, 'if an attorney can argue persuasively'. This says the case has nothing to do with right or wrong, but who can be the more persuasive.
And as for why companies settle, why wouldn't they? They will pay out i.e. say $50,000 to get it over with. Most of these lawsuits are simply blackmail as the attorneys know the companies will settle. If the attorney or the plaintiff really was serious about thier cause, they would not settle, but see it through. It has nothing to do about GMO, natural, healthy, or how I was mislead.
It is all about the pay day.

Report abuse

Natural and Born Again

Posted by Jennifer Chistiano,

If GMO's are 'natural', perhaps we should consider Frankenstein as "born again"?

Report abuse

It should be a criminal offense...

Posted by banh,

Using GMO ingredients in a product marketed as "healthy" or all-natural should be a criminal offense. "Big Food" and "Big Pharma" don't care about health, safety or long-term effects, they care about profit. I say, let's take a few of these turkeys to court and dig into those profits with gusto.

The language of money is universal. Financial pain is always remembered, and these huge conglomerate companies are due for some ACUTE pain.

Report abuse

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars