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Originally published July 13 2008

Sara Lee Bakery Manufacturer Sued Over "Misleading" Whole Grains Claims

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A non-profit organization has announced its intention to sue baked goods manufacturer Sara Lee for "misleading" claims about the whole grain nature of some of its products.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) sent a letter to Sara Lee announcing CSPI's intention to file a lawsuit over marketing claims such as "made with whole grain," "good source of whole grain" and "now with 25 percent more whole grain." According to CSPI, these statements are "intended to deceive the consumer into thinking the bread is a whole-grain bread, when in fact it is not."

Sara Lee says that it sells not only white and 100 percent whole grain breads, but also intermediate products that it calls "nutritionally transitional." These products, made with a mix of refined and whole wheat flour, are designed to help consumers eat more whole grains without a radical change from the taste and texture of the refined grains they are used to.

The Whole Grains Council has called such transition products a good way to get used to whole grains. But the council noted that "most 'beginner' whole grain breads have at least eight grams of whole grain per slice, while Sara Lee's Soft & Smooth Made With Whole Grain has just four grams of whole grain per slice. Eight grams is only about two teaspoons of whole grain flour -- an amount that's easily incorporated into bread without sacrificing taste or texture."

In its marketing, Sara Lee claims that the Soft & Smooth products combine "the taste and texture of white bread with the goodness of whole grain."

CSPI is seeking an injunction that would bar Sara Lee from saying that its products contain "the goodness or whole grain" or even that they are "made with whole grain" without explicitly stating on the label what percentage of the product is whole grain. It is also seeking a general ban on claims that a product is a good source of whole grains without an enforceable FDA standard for such claims.

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