Cereal Bar Deception: Popular Grocery Chains Hit with Class Action Lawsuits Over "Natural" Claims

cereal bar misleading labels

"Natural" Blueberry Cereal Bars? Lawsuits Claim Deception by Grocery Stores.

Who hasn't reached for a seemingly healthy cereal bar in the morning rush, only to discover it's more of a sugary snack in disguise? Now, two major grocery store chains are facing heat for allegedly misleading consumers about the ingredients in their store-brand cereal bars.

Naturally flavored? Not quite.

Albertsons and Kroger are both under fire for separate class action lawsuits accusing them of falsely advertising their blueberry cereal bars as "naturally flavored." Three California consumers brought the lawsuits alleging that while these bars may contain some natural blueberry flavors, they also boast a key ingredient higher up on the list: synthetic malic acid.

This detail is crucial because, according to the class action lawsuits, malic acid derived from petroleum through chemical reactions doesn't qualify as "natural" under federal and state regulations. What's more, the lawsuits claim that most consumers believe artificial flavors are unhealthy, making the "natural" label all the more misleading.

Both complaints state that, “DL-malic acid is not a ‘natural flavor’ as defined by federal and state regulations, because it is not from a fruit, vegetable, or other natural source, but from petroleum, made through chemical reactions.”

Deceptive packaging, premium prices

The lawsuits don't stop at the ingredient list. They argue that the packaging itself is deceptive.  While the fine print might acknowledge malic acid, the front label with its bold claims of "natural flavor" creates the impression that artificial ingredients are absent.

“Plaintiffs are like most consumers and when they see a label that tells them a food is ‘Naturally Flavored,’ they do not expect its taste to be from artificial flavoring and/or that it will contain artificial flavoring ingredients,” the class actions claim.

This alleged deception, according to the lawsuits, allows these grocery chains to charge a premium price for products that don't live up to their "natural" billing.

What consumers can do

If you've purchased blueberry cereal bars from Albertsons or Kroger in recent years and believe the "natural flavor" claims were misleading, these lawsuits may be relevant to you. It's important to stay tuned for updates on how to get involved in the class action process.

In the meantime, this situation serves as a reminder to be a savvy label reader. Don't let marketing terms cloud your judgment. Carefully scrutinize ingredient lists and don't hesitate to research unfamiliar components before tossing a product in your cart.

By holding grocery chains accountable for potentially deceptive labeling practices, we can create a marketplace that offers more transparent and trustworthy information for health-conscious consumers.

The plaintiff in the Albertsons case is represented by Kyle Gurwell of The Law Office of Kyle Gurwell. Manfred P. Muecke of Manfred APC is representing the plaintiffs in the Kroger case.

The Albertsons cereal bars class action lawsuit is Garza, et al. v. Albertsons Companies Inc., Case No. 2:24-cv-02622, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Western Division.

The Kroger cereal bars class action lawsuit is Garland, et al v. The Kroger Co., Case No. 3:24-cv-00240-LL-BLM, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.