No one would mistake Kellogg's Pop-Tarts for a bowl of fruit. They are an indulgent treat, loaded with sugar and processed ingredients. But a new lawsuit claims Pop-Tarts are masquerading as a health food.
A class action lawsuit, filed by Illinois resident Anita Harris in August, alleges the brand's marketing is "misleading because they give people the impression the fruit filling contains a greater relative and absolute amount of strawberries than it does." The lawsuit also focuses on the health benefits that come from strawberries, citing a WebMD description stating that strawberries "protect your heart, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure and guard against cancer."
The lawsuit seeks at least $5 million. Harris also alleges the product's name, "Frosted Strawberry Toaster Pastries," is "false, misleading, and deceptive" because the Pop-Tart filling contains a "relatively significant amount of non-strawberry fruit ingredients" including pears and apples. The plaintiff said she wanted more than a "strawberry taste," which she nevertheless "failed to receive, due to the relatively greater amount of pears and apples," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit indicates that Kellogg's "only promotes the product's strawberry content in its labeling and marketing, such as on its website."
Kellogg did not respond to CNN Business' request for comment.
According to the product's ingredients list, Pop-Tarts contain "2% or less of wheat starch, salt, dried strawberries, dried pears and dried apples" and 2% or less of other ingredients including citric acid, gelatin, modified wheat starch, yellow corn flour, caramel color palm oil, xanthan gum, cornstarch, turmeric extract color, soy lecithin, red 40, yellow 6, blue 1 and added color.
Harris' complaint contrasts Kellogg's Pop-Tart marketing unfavorably with other "frosted strawberry" toaster pastries from companies including Walmart's Great Value brand and Dollar Tree's Clover Value brand. Both of those companies, the lawsuit states, use the phrase "Naturally & Artificially Flavored" on the box to tip off customers that the product has fewer strawberry ingredients than consumers might expect. Kellogg's, however, does not put that language on its Pop-Tart boxes.
Does Harris have a legal argument? Perhaps, said Edgar Dworsky, consumer lawyer and founder and editor of Consumer World.
"Food product labeling cases are hot now," Dworsky said. "Various lawsuits recently have claimed that there is no real tuna in Subway tuna fish, that Honey Bunches of Oats is almost devoid of honey, and that Morning Star Farms Veggie Hot Dogs have almost no vegetables. How they ultimately turn out is a toss of a coin."
Common US foods that are banned in other countries
Common US foods that are banned in other countries
Consumers in the United States put their trust in organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture to keep packaged foods, fish, and livestock production safe—but to what standards?
Many American food additives (think flame retardants and suspected carcinogens) and production standards that have been approved domestically are banned or strictly regulated abroad. This is all in addition to the U.S.’s liberal policies on genetically modified organisms, which are more restricted or banned outright in other countries as well.
What chemicals are lurking in the ingredients of some of America’s favorite foods? What production practices are standardized in the United States but illegal in other parts of the world?
Stacker’s list to discover 30 everyday American food products with ingredients that are banned in other countries. You may also like: What the average American eats in a year
This citrus-flavored soft drink uses brominated vegetable oil (BVO) as an emulsifier. BVO is banned in Japan and
the European Union because it contains bromine, the element found in brominated flame retardants, which can build up in the body and potentially lead to memory loss as well as skin and nerve problems.
Chicken that's been chlorinated
Chicken produced in the United States gets washed in chlorine to reduce its risk of spreading diseases and illnesses like salmonella. This practice
is banned in the United Kingdom and the European Union because it promotes unsanitary farming practices.
Meat with ractopamine
In the United States, farmers use ractopamine to increase lean muscle growth in livestock,
including in 40-60% of American pigs. Elsewhere, 160 nations—including the European Union, Russia, and China— ban the use of the drug in meat production.
Arby's Sourdough Breakfast Bread, Croissant, and French Toast Sticks
The fast-food chain
uses the chemical azodicarbonamide as a whitening agent and dough conditioner in its baked goods. Although its use is decreasing in the United States because of concerns that it is a carcinogen, the FDA still permits it. It is banned in Europe.
Frosted Flakes, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Rice Krispies
These popular breakfast cereals contain BHT, a flavor enhancer, which has long been studied for its potential carcinogenic properties;
the evidence is inconclusive. It is banned in Japan and the European Union.
Trans fats like the partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils in Coffee-mate are linked to heart disease and were officially banned in the U.S. as of June 18, 2018. However, they still linger in the U.S. food supply. They are also banned in many other countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark.
Stove Top stuffing
You can make stuffing in just five minutes with this popular Kraft product. But the mix contains preservatives BHA and BHT, which are suspected to be carcinogenic and to impair blood clotting. This has caused these preservatives to be banned in the United Kingdom, Japan, and several European countries.
Drumstick frozen dairy desserts
Drumstick uses carrageenan for texture in its ice cream, but the additive that is derived from seaweed
can affect the human digestive system. The adverse effects have caused the European Union to limit it in products like baby food.
When consumers are tasting the rainbow of this popular candy, they are also ingesting food dyes Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40. These dyes have been known to have adverse effects on young children. They are
banned in foods for infants in the European Union, and foods that contain the dyes must carry a warning label. Norway and Austria ban them completely.
To add freshness to a package of Wheat Thins, Nabisco adds BHT to the packaging. The chemical is banned in the United Kingdom, Japan, and parts of Europe.
This sports drink claims to replenish electrolytes, but it also contains food dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. These artificial colors
are banned in foods for infants and children in the European Union, and they must also carry warnings on all other products there. They are completely banned in Norway and Austria.
The colorful breakfast pastry contains food dyes Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40, which are still deemed safe to eat domestically but are partially banned in the European Union.
Farmer John Pork Breakfast Sausage Links
This breakfast food uses the flavor enhancer BHT,
a suspected carcinogen that is banned in the European Union and Japan.
This colorful breakfast cereal gets its rainbow hue by using additives Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40, which must contain warning labels in the European Union. They are also banned in
Norway and Austria. They are permitted in the U.S. even though they are known to cause itching and hives for some.
Bread tainted with potassium bromate
Potassium bromate is added to bread dough as a strengthener that creates a higher rise, reduces baking time and cost, and gives finished loaves a bright white color. But the chemical is also linked to cancer, nervous system damage, and kidney damage. Potassium bromate is banned in the United Kingdom, Canada, Peru, and many other countries, but is still ubiquitous in many American bread products including bagel chips, rolls, and even breadcrumbs.
Tostitos Salsa Con Queso Dip
The bright color of Tostitos Salsa Con Queso Dip is derived by food additives Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. These artificial colors
are banned in Norway and Austria and must contain warnings on labels in the European Union.
is the third-leading cracker brand in the United States. Its namesake cracker contains partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, which is a trans fat that is currently banned domestically and in many other countries like Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark.
This grapefruit-flavored citrus drink manufactured by the Coca-Cola Company contains flame retardant bromine to prevent the separation of ingredients.
BVO is banned in Europe.
Genetically engineered papaya
In the United States and parts of Asia, farmers are cultivating
virus-resistant variants of the fruit. These genetically engineered offshoots are legal to eat in the U.S. and Canada, but illegal in the European Union.
The Pillsbury doughboy’s biscuits make it simple to have freshly baked bread in minutes. However, these baked goods also
contain trans fats in the form of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which is known to cause heart disease.
The citrus drink contains artificial colors that are restricted in Europe. Products that contain Yellow 6 and Red 40 must include warning labels in the European Union. These dyes are also
banned in Norway and Austria.
Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix
Baking brownies couldn’t be easier with this popular mix. However, a closer look at the ingredients reveals the product still contains trans fats in the form of partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil. Trans fats
were recently banned in the U.S., but a few still remain. They are also banned in Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark.
Pillsbury Pie Crust
Pillsbury brings the convenience of a ready-made pie crust to kitchens across the country. However, this product is banned in the United Kingdom, Japan, and parts of Europe because it contains both BHA and BHT. The substances are suspected to be carcinogenic and have been linked to impaired blood clotting.
This popular jiggling dessert is low in calories and free from artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. But its color is far from natural. It contains Red 40, which is restricted in Europe and
illegal in Norway and Austria.
High fructose corn syrup
This sweetener—made from pure fructose and sugar—is linked to a
variety of ailments like obesity and Type 2 diabetes. It’s found in everything from beverages to cereals and ice cream. While it isn’t banned specifically in any country, the U.K. and some European countries have restricted the products and placed them under quota limitations.
Olestra is a
fat substitute the FDA approved in 1996 to make snacks and chips guilt-free. However, side effects of the additive include abdominal cramping and loose stools. The fat substitute also inhibits the absorption of vitamins and nutrients. It’s banned in Canada and many European countries.
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