If Nutella’s claims were class-action-worthy, what about these other deceivers?

Posted by
May 1, 2012

FoodIdentityTheft.com – May 1, 2012  Nutella was on its way to court. Last February Athena Hohenberg, a California mom, claimed Ferrero, the Italian company that has been making the hazelnut and cocoa product since the 1940s tricked her into believing the sweet spread is “”healthier than it actually is,” and got a class-action lawsuit going in California.

Recently settled for just over $3 million, $2.5 million of which will be divided among consumers who purchased the product within a certain time frame (click here for the Nutella class-action settlement website if you want to claim your share), Hohenberg said she was misled by advertising stating Nutella can be part of an “easy, balanced breakfast.”

So while Nutella is on the hot seat for pushing its chocolatey product as a kids’ breakfast staple, we want to know how come these other “breakfast” items don’t have some moms just as angry;

  • Kellogg’s Froot Loops: while Froot Loops contains no fruit at all, it does manage to get into the box partially hydrogenated oil, artificial colors and flavors and a preservative.
  • Kellogg’s Smorz cereal: described as “crunchy graham cereal covered in rich chocolatey coating with marshmallows.” The ingredient panel for this breakfast item reads like an example of what not to eat, from hydrogenated oils to artificial colors and flavors to high fructose corn syrup. While the ingredients are less than good,  the website shows an image of wheat stalks against a blue sky with the caption “the goodness of grains.”
  • Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Chocolatey Crunch: The website tells us that the “Cap’n has been busy in his test kitchen again!” Well kids, we can only imagine what else is in that “test kitchen” since this “decadent delight” is made with refined corn and oat flour, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.

Ferrero USA busied itself to revise its web sites and “modify certain marketing statements about Nutella,” which includes making the Nutella nutrition labels more prominent. Consumers can cash in on the case by receiving refunds of $4 for each jar purchased, up to $20. Meanwhile Cap’t Crunch, in the form of Quaker Oats, appears to be making almost exactly the same claim, that ‘Crunch’ served with ”low-fat milk and fresh fruit or a glass of 100% juice” makes a “nutritious” breakfast. Isn’t there a mom out there who want to haul the Cap’n into court?

Will the “real” sugar please stand up?

Several Food Identity Theft blog readers have asked about beverages, especially Pepsi Next, that make the claim “less sugar.” In the case of Pepsi Next, it says “60 percent less sugar…than Pepsi-cola.”

How can that be, since “regular” Pepsi uses high fructose corn syrup as its main sweetener. What does “less sugar” mean exactly?

I took the question to the Pepsi Cola company. In an e-mail exchange with Andrea Canabal in the company’s press department, I first asked what “60 percent less sugar” means.

Repeating the same message that’s found on the bottle, she told me that Next has “60 percent less sugar than regular Pepsi, yet maintains the real cola flavor.”

“I thought only Pepsi Throwback was made with sugar,” I replied.

“Pepsi Throwback is made with real sugar…” was her answer.

So there you have it. There’s “real” sugar –  and then there’s the other stuff, namely high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the unreal “sugar.”

Taking the question further, I contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees packaging claims, and asked my question about the Pepsi Next “less sugar” label – we’ll see what they come back with. However, I do like the idea of calling the sweet substance made from sugar cane or sugar beets “real” sugar, and I think we should send the ‘unreal’ HFCS back where it came from – the laboratory.

Let the “real” sugar revival begin!