Fruit foul-up: General Mills pulls strawberry label
The food giant has agreed to make changes to clarify the ingredients in one version of its popular Fruit Roll-Ups.
The packaged foods giant agreed to "improve" its labeling for the product as part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
These roll-ups actually contain pears from concentrate, corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and 2% or less of various natural and artificial ingredients. Under the agreement, General Mills will not show pictures of strawberries on its label as long as the product lacks the red berries.
"And, so long as the product's label carries the claim 'Made with real fruit,' such claims will be required to include the actual percentage of fruit in the product," according to CSPI. "Both of those changes will take effect in 2014."
This a widespread problem. FDA regulations allow food companies to say that a product contains something as long as it is a "characterizing flavor," says CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. He added that the General Mills product, which was being marketed to parents as healthy snack for kids even though it isn't, has a strawberry taste.
"The FDA has some very wrong-minded regulations about fruit flavorings and colorings,"
he said in an interview, adding, that there is a "widespread con going on."
General Mills, parent of Pillsbury, Cherrios and Betty Crocker, not surprisingly, sees things differently.
"We disagree with CSPI on the merit and substance of the case, but we both agreed to resolve the matter to avoid further litigation," the company said in a statement.
--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.
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