Marketing in the food industry is big business. Many companies spend more money marketing their products than on the development of the food itself. A big part of marketing is the claims that are made. Although many companies take care to make claims that are supported by the product, some companies have been fined or even sued for making claims that are not supported by the actual product.
One such company is Pepperidge Farm. They are facing a potential class action due to the claims that their Goldfish crackers are “natural” when in fact they are made with genetically modified ingredients. The claim is that the company has engaged in deceptive and misleading advertising to consumers by failing to mention that some of the ingredients were made with genetically modified ingredients.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate the genetically modified plants used as food. At this time, the FDA does not require companies who use such ingredients to put them on their labels, so any such labeling by the company is completely voluntary. Conversely, any labeling advertising the non-use of genetically modified products is also voluntary. Any such food has to go through the full FDA approval process before it is brought to market. At this point, the FDA has not found any health concerns from the use of genetically modified products.
Still, many consumers do not want such products in their food and they want the government to require companies to label any products that contain such ingredients, or enjoin them from using labels like “natural” to describe their product. Some studies have found issues with the use of GMOs as they may increase allergic reactions to certain foods, namely soy, wheat, corn, and cotton. The FDA has acknowledged that this is a possibility although they still contend that GMO foods are not materially different from non-GMO foods.
Legally, however, the company may not be found to have done anything wrong. However, the publicity nightmare may be the pressure the company needs to change its practices anyway. Those who are offended at the inclusion of such foods are loud enough to catch the attention of many Americans.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.