A federal judge in California has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that General Mills, Inc. was misleading consumers about the healthiness and fruit content of its ‘Fruit Roll-Ups’ and ‘Fruit by the Foot’ product lines. A California woman, Annie Lam, sued the on grounds that a “reasonable consumer” might be confused by the products’ actual fruit content.
Lam alleged that the marketing claim “made with real fruit” incorrectly described the fruit snacks’ true ingredients. She is, of course, wrong, because the products do actually contain real fruit. A quick flip to the back of the product reveals that it contains “pears from concentrate.” It may not be the fruit she wants, but technically, it is “real fruit.” We here at Abnormal Use understand the vexing frustration of having to flip a box over and read the ingredient list, but give us a break on the federal court litigation, okay?
Judge Samuel Conti, however, clearly disagrees with us. In his decision, he held that the packaging statements “might lead a reasonable consumer to believe that [the] product is made with real strawberries, not pears from concentrate. The names ‘Fruit Roll-Ups’ and ‘Fruit by the Foot,’ along with the fanciful depiction of these products, which resemble fruit leather, may lead to further confusion about the Fruit Snacks’ ingredients.”
The suit, which now seeks class-action status, was filed with the aid of the watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest. Although there may be a time and place for pursuing companies that are trying to pull a fast one on the general public, we must be honest and say that we don’t feel much sympathy when there’s a plainly visible nutrition and ingredient label on the side of the package. In fact, those labels are required to be by law. Furthermore, let’s be real here . . . who in their right minds believes that Fruit Roll-Up is healthy (or, at least, as healthy as “real fruit”)?