The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an anti-snack food advocacy group, has filed a federal suit against General Mills, accusing the company of misleading consumers by suggesting that their fruit snacks are healthy. The products in question (Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot and Gushers) are marketed as “fruit flavored”, “naturally flavored”, a “good source of Vitamin C”, “low fat” and “gluten free”-descriptors which the complaint alleges mislead the public about the true nutritional value of the processed snacks.
The complaint, which was filed in Northern California, states:
“[General Mills] is conveying an overall message of a healthful snack product to parents when, in fact, the products contain dangerous, non-nutritious, unhealthy partially hydrogenated oil, large amounts of sugar, and potentially harmful artificial dyes…In fact, Defendant’s Fruit Snacks contained trans fat, added sugars, and artificial food dyes; lacked significant amounts of real, natural fruit; and had no dietary fiber. Thus, although the Products were marketed as being healthful and nutritious for children and adults alike, selling these Fruit Snacks was little better than giving candy to children.”
The food manufacturer is accused of violating several California laws which prohibit deceptive advertising, as well as Minnesota’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (the company is based there). In a statement, a General Mills spokesperson says “We stand behind our products, and we stand behind the accuracy of the labeling of those products.”