A California woman has filed a class-action suit against Kraft Food Inc., Kellogg USA Inc. and General Mills, claiming that the companies engaged in misleading advertising when they labeled some of their breakfast cereals as "low sugar." The companies responded that they did not make health claims for the cereal.
The suit, filed Thursday in San Diego Superior Court by Jennifer Hardee, is seeking class-action status for all consumers in the state who bought the low-sugar cereals thinking they were healthier than full-sugar versions.
Hardee, a Navy wife with daughters, 10 and 13, says she bought the three cereals believing the low-sugar products were better for her children, according to her lawyer.
But after hearing a broadcast of a recent report by The Associated Press, which found the low-sugar cereals had little nutritional benefit, she became alarmed and filed the court action.
Plaintiff: A San Diego woman says three major cereal companies are misleading the public by implying that their "low sugar" eats, such as Trix and Frosted Flakes, are more healthful than others.
It claims the companies engaged in misleading advertising by using the "low sugar" designation on the packaging, and that marketing campaigns falsely advertise the cereals as nutritionally superior.
Hal Hewell, a lawyer for Hardee, said the suit contends the companies replaced the sugar in the cereals with refined carbohydrates, which nutritionally makes them no different from the regular cereals.
The AP story reported conclusions of nutritionists asked by the news organization to examine the low-sugar cereals and compare them to the regular versions.
The cereals were Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Trix from General Mills; Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops from Kellogg; and Fruity Pebbles from Post.
General Mills "never made specific health claims" for its reduced sugar
cereals, spokeswoman Marybeth Thorsgaard told the AP yesterday.
"There are some consumers who prefer an option with reduced sugar.
And we're looking to see if there are ways to add additional nutrients like whole grain and fiber in the future," she said.
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