These days, consumers definitely prefer healthier foods, without chemicals and additives. And companies definitely like to claim that that’s what they’re offering. Unfortunately, the complaint for this class action claims that, despite its advertising claims, Kellogg Company may be offering glyphosate, a weed killer, in certain of its breakfast foods.
A Multi-State Class has been proposed for this action. It includes all consumers who, within the applicable statute of limitations period until the notice is distributed, bought the products at issue in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Washington. As an alternative, the complaint proposes a California Class for consumers of the products in California.
In August 2018, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published an article entitled, “Breakfast with a Dose of Roundup?” It claimed that it had found glyphosate in a number of popular breakfast foods. Glyphosate is a weed-killing poison that is sprayed on wheat, barley, and oats and used as a desiccant to dry grain faster. “Each year,” the complaint says, “more than 250 million pounds of glyphosate is sprayed on American crops…” and some of it apparently remains in the food products from which those crops are made.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer says that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The complaint alleges that it is even more dangerous to children.
At issue in this case are two Kellogg breakfast products, Kelloff Nutrigrain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars—Strawberry, and Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran cereal. Both were tested and cited in the EWG article as containing glyphosate.
The breakfast bars were found to contain 30-80 parts per billion (ppb) of glyphostate; the oat bran cereal was found to contain 120-250 ppb. The article contains a note saying that “EWG’s child-protective health benchmark for daily exposure to glyphosate in food is 160 ppb.” But the complaint claims, “Because it is a probably carcinogen with no nutritional value, the presence of any amount of glyphosate in the Products, no matter whether above or below regulatory limits, is material to reasonable consumers. No reasonable consumer would purchase the Products knowing that they contain glyphosate.”
According to the complaint, though, Kellogg markets the foods as healthy. For example, the box for the breakfast bars says, “Strawberry naturally flavored with other natural flavors” and “No colors from artificial sources[.]” The complaint notes that nowhere on the packaging or in the marketing materials does Kellogg disclose that the products might or do contain glyphosate, which seems to be a profoundly unhealthy substance.
The complaint claims that Kellogg has violated California’s Business & Professions Code and similar consumer fraud statutes in other states. It also cites the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.