Would You Sue Safeway Over This Ingredient?

A Safeway shopper is suing the grocery retailer, alleging that the company is misleading in its 100% Natural claim.  Safeway introduced a higher end line of products branded as “Open Nature” a few years ago. The tag line is “100% Natural”. According to the lawsuit, the  “100% Natural Multi-Grain Waffles” product is not really 100% natural because it include an ingredient, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, which is a chemical preservative that is not at all natural.

Does the lawsuit have merit?

Here is the product ingredient list:

Whole wheat flour, whey, buttermilk, water, egg whites, expeller pressed canola oil, multi blend (oat flour, corn flour, barley flour, rye flour, brown rice flour), contains 2% or less of: sugar, honey, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate), wheat bran, expeller pressed soy lecithin, amaranth flour, millet flour, quinoa flour, salt, cinnamon.

Overall, the ingredients look good. The oil is expeller pressed, which is both more expensive and retains more nutrients compared to chemical extraction. The leavening used to make the waffles puffy is not yeast, but rather a combination of two benign chemicals – baking soda and said sodium acid pyrophosphate.

Sodium acid pyrophosphate is created in a lab by the reaction of sodium carbonate with phosphoric acid.  Both are found in nature, but are manufactured in chemical plants to reduce price.

If you were the judge, what would you decide?

Get Fooducated

  • Cindy

    I wouldn’t waste my money suing them. If I didn’t agree with the product labeling I would just stop buying their products. The only way food companies will easily agree to change anything about a product is if their sales drop, by consumers refusing to spend money on it.

    Since the term 100% natural is virtually meaningless on the front of the package, along with the disclaimer that says, “from natural sources,” It may be difficult for a single person to fight in court.

    But I do understand this person’s reason for wanting to sue. People are tired of food companies twisting words and using savvy marketing only to fool people. These companies straddle a fine line between truth in advertising and false advertising.

  • http://www.healthy-lifestyle-trainer.com/ Mike Luque

    I would find in favor of the plaintiff. To advertise 100% natural, you need to prove 100% natural, which they clearly can’t do. So this is false advertising.
    As far as penalty, they’d have to either re-label or just add the most simple, all natural leavening agent: YEAST!
    (I mean, how hard is that??)

    • Anne Noise

      100% with an asterisk isn’t 100%, in my mind.

      • Neecie

        I agree w/Anne. We shouldn’t be suckers for the word “Natural” — too misleading

  • SeaKat

    I’d question the canola oil being ‘natural’ myself, because I would almost bet money it’s GMO.

  • Jason Harrison

    I didn’t think that the word “natural” was controlled by USDA or FDA. I thought it was a meaningless advertising word.

  • rff10

    I have yet to find a waffle tree. Something has to be done to each of those ingredients to get them to a point where you can make waffle. Is it possible that somewhere on earth those two items exist together? Sure. Is it produced in a lab for economy? Of course. Finding could go either way, but before that I’d dismiss the suit as frivolous. If you’re ignorant enough to believe advertising, it’s your own fault.

  • malmedia

    The first definition that comes up in my Google search says… adj. 1 existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.

    So by my personal interpretation of what that means, I would guess to say that there is a good chance that none of the ingredients are natural. That’s because every single item on that list may been processed by man. Machines that were made by man probably crushed, grounds, squeezed, blended, filtered, burned, cut, mixed, extracted, dried, and/or heated each and every one of those ingredients. So until mother nature makes a factory, just about every product, especially those with labels on them.

    Is Flour natural? A seed, GMO or otherwise, was planted by man in a field made by man that was watered using irrigation made by man and then fertilized by man with products that may have been manufacutured by man made chemicals, and then sprayed with man made herbicides and pesticides. That does not sound at all natural to me.