“Natural” Food Claims: Industry Practices, Consumer Expectations, and Class Action Lawsuits

Neal Hooker, Christopher T. Simons, and Efthimios Parasidis

ABSTRACT

This article examines industry practices, consumer expectations, and class action lawsuits involving natural food claims. Although anecdotal evidence of disputes
regarding natural claims is plentiful, there have been few comprehensive, quantitative analyses. This article adds to this debate. It presents data on food manufacturer and retailer use of natural claims, and consumer perceptions of natural claims for food products during the timeframe 2010–2014. It then identifies 22 purported class action lawsuits alleging false or misleading natural claims on food labels and details the causes of action underlying each claim. Insofar as a gap
remains between firm use and consumer expectations, regulators and lawmakers should set clear parameters on use of natural claims on food labels.

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Food and Drug Law Journal

Volume 73, Number 2