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.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 21, 2012 2:44PM
Image: Boy hiding eyes (Ned Frisk Photography/Corbis)General Mills (GIS) Friday agreed to make it clear that its Strawberry Naturally Flavored Fruit Roll-Ups don't actually contain strawberries.

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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Tags: Food
5Comments
Dec 21, 2012 3:48PM
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How about making a fruit product with just the actual fruit and no corn syrup, sugars and anything else that is making our country fatter and unhealthy by the second. How about transparency in what the hell we consume and not have hidden meanings or false advertising going on. The FDA doesn't want us to know what we are eating. Hence, it took an independent to let the country know we were eating Pink Slime that until recently, was only fit for consumption by feed animals. Nice that companies are trying to make a dollar of us while slowly killing us in the process.
Dec 23, 2012 10:00PM
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These fruit roll up's are part of the SAD diet (standard American diet). Yuck.
Dec 24, 2012 9:36PM
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General Mills is a marketing company. They do not make 75% of their product.
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