Kashi, once the darling of the real food community, has seen its sales decline in recent years. Now owned by Kellogg’s, the company has been embroiled in legal battles as well. Customers sued the company for claiming its products were all natural, when in fact, some of the ingredients used were hard to classify as such.
California plaintiffs contended in a 2011 lawsuit that Kashi products cannot be called all natural if they use ingredients such as soy oil. Soy oil is extracted from soybeans using a chemical solvent, hexane, a process that is far from natural.
Other ingredients of concern include pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate (vitamins B6 and B5). Although these vitamins occur naturally, it is much cheaper to synthesize them in labs.
As expected, Kashi reached a settlement, and will pay $5,000,000 to customers (and the lawyers). Additionally, Kashi will strike the “all natural” claim from some of its products by the end of the year.
Kashi is hardly alone, as many other manufacturers are being sued in recent years. In fact, there has been a ten-fold increase in lawsuits around the tern “natural” in the last 3 years, compared to the previous 5 years. As you may recall, the FDA has decided NOT to define “natural”. This leaves lots of wiggle room for lawsuits.
Where do Kashi and other manufacturers go from here?
Perhaps they can start by ending the practice of health-washing their products with silly claims on the front of package.