General Mills Sued For Marketing Fruit Roll-Ups As Health Food

As someone who grew up in the '90s, I've probably consumed my own weight in Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit By The Foot, and Gushers. I'm fairly certain that my mom bought them for me because I whined when the commercial came on, and she figured they were no worse than Dunk-a-roos, which contained 100% of your totally not recommended daily allowance of frosting. Apparently, in recent years boxes of General Mills' fruit snacks began featuring more labels touting the nutritional benefits of eating gummy snacks. Now a new lawsuit has accused the company of false advertising for portraying the products as health food.

According to AdWeek, The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a class action suit alleging that General Mills is guity of misleading the public about the nutritional benefits of eating the "fruit flavored snack." The suit points out that the packaging contains terms like "naturally flavored," a "good source of Vitamin C," "low calorie," "low fat," and "gluten free." It says that in reality:

"Defendant's Fruit Snacks contained trans fat, added sugars, and artificial food dyes; lacked significant amounts of real, natural fruit; and had no dietary fiber. Thus, although the Products were marketed as being healthful and nutritious for children and adults alike, selling these Fruit Snacks was little better than giving candy to children."

This is the second suit filed against General Mills for the way it markets somewhat-edible, fruit-flavored products. Last year a Brooklyn woman called the foods "dangerous" and "unhealthy," and an attorney with the CSPI says:

"General Mills is giving consumers the false impression that these products are somehow more wholesome, and charging more. It's an elaborate hoax on parents who are trying to do right by their kids."

Plus, two years ago the FDA demanded that the manufacturer to stop insinuating on Cheerios packaging that the cereal has magical cancer-preventing qualities.

General Mills responded to the suit, saying, "We stand behind our products — and we stand behind the accuracy of the labeling of those products." While the intentions behind the suit are good, it's entirely possible that the labels are technically correct. The problem isn't that the fruit products aren't "low fat" and "low calorie," it's that some parents don't understand that those terms don't mean a food is nutritious. Half of those labels probably apply to cotton candy, it's just more obvious that sending kids to school with a wad of spun sugar in their lunch box isn't equivalent to packing an apple.

Fruit Suit: General Mills Faces Deceptive Advertising Lawsuit For Fruit Snacks [AdWeek]
General Mills Fruit Snacks More Like "Candy"-Lawsuit [Reuters]

Earlier: Woman Sues Fruit Roll-Ups For Being Dangerous, Delicious