A Great Trend for the Organic Industry – Kashi Faces a Class-Action Lawsuit for Using Hazardous Substances in its “All-Natural” Products

Written by Max Goldberg on September 5, 2011. Follow Max on Twitter: @livingmaxwell.

Recently, I wrote about how ConAgra and its Wesson Oils division were facing a class action lawsuit because the company was claiming that its products were “all-natural” when, in fact, they contained genetically-modified ingredients, which are not “all-natural”.

This is an incredibly important case and could set a massive precedent in the food industry regarding GMOs.

Well, the good news continues.

A new class action lawsuit has been filed, this time against Kashi and its parent company Kellogg’s. The reason?

Kashi’s GoLean and TLC products are marketed as “all-natural” and state that they contain “nothing artificial” when, in fact, they are “composed almost entirely of synthetic and unnaturally processed ingredients”, so says the lawsuit.

But wait, it gets worse. MUCH WORSE.

The Kashi class action lawsuit alleges that some of these synthetic ingredients are even listed by the FDA as prescription drugs, irradiated substances, pesticides that are a by-product of uranium mining, and federally declared hazardous substances.

Here are just a few examples from the lawsuit of ingredients that have been included in Kashi’s products and claim to be “all natural” or contain “nothing artificial”:

- Phytonadione (Vitamin K) has not been listed by the FDA as generally recognized as safe as a food additive. Its injectible form is listed as a prescription drug.

Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapple. According to the National Library of Medicine’s Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), its production requires acetone, which is a hazardous synthetic substance.

- Sodium Molybdate has not been declared to be generally recognized as safe by the FDA. According to HSDB, molybdenum salts are by-products of uranium mining and can be found in fertilizers for leguminous crops, citing American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

And these are only three examples.

The class action lawsuit against Kashi and Kellogg’s lists 14 claims including making false, deceptive and misleading representations and omissions, negligence and negligent representation, false advertising, and conspiracy.

WHY SIGNIFICANT FOR ORGANIC CONSUMERS?

A logical question that one may be asking right now is “Ok, they’re cracking down on ‘all-natural’ advertising but what does that have to do with organic?”

The answer is very simple.

Many consumers mistakenly believe that “natural” is superior to and healthier than “organic”. Yet, this is absolutely not the case.

If, however, as a result of these lawsuits, “natural” is no longer unfairly exploited and people soon realize that “natural” doesn’t really mean much at all, organic food can only benefit.

They will soon realize that the healthiest food available is organic food.

—–

My Take: I hope many more of these class action lawsuit pop up against the industrial food companies, and I have a very, very strong feeling that they will. Why?

Because the class action lawyers smell big money, defendants with deep pockets and cases that can be won.

At the end of the day, I don’t really care about the true motive of these class action lawyers because the general public is going to benefit tremendously and major food companies will think twice before attempting to deceive consumers.

These lawsuits make me shake my head and ask: Why isn’t our government, namely the FDA and USDA, protecting its own citizens?

Unfortunately, I already know the answer.

The FDA and USDA are so beholden and influenced by major food companies that they would never think about cracking down on them, even if it meant consumers would be safer.

This is just more evidence that each person needs to take responsibility and educate themselves about every single thing that they are putting into their bodies because our government is simply not doing enough.

To read the entire class action lawsuit, click HERE (PDF file).

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40 Comments

  1. This is great. At the very least, these kinds of lawsuits will raise consumer awareness. Thanks for your great posts.

    Written by Randy on September 5, 2011 @ 5:57 pm
  2. Hi Randy,

    Yes, I agree. If nothing else, I hope these lawsuits raise awareness but the mainstream media has to pick them up. So far, I haven’t seen much.

    Talk soon!

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on September 6, 2011 @ 10:19 am
  3. Hello Max,

    I am looking into this further and reaching to my colleagues
    as well. Thank you for posting.

    All the best,
    stephanie

    Written by stephanie haughey on September 7, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
  4. Hi Stephanie,

    Please let me know what your colleagues have to say. I am very interested to hear.

    Also, does WF sell Kashi products?

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on September 8, 2011 @ 10:22 am
  5. Hi Max,

    Yes, I agree. Hope this kind of lawsuits will raise consumer awareness, hope many could read your article.

    Thanks..

    Written by Nahaia Active Organics on September 9, 2011 @ 12:22 am
  6. Hi Nahaia,

    I sincerely hope it raises awareness as well. Thanks for your feedback.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on September 9, 2011 @ 11:08 am
  7. I’ve been suspicious about their cereals for quite a while, so it was very interesting to read your post and the lawsuit. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    Recently Coffee mate came out with an “all-natural” creamer. The last ingredient is “natural flavor”. I’m curious what this “natural flavor” is made of. Corn? Do you know? Thanks!

    Written by Deliciously Organic on September 10, 2011 @ 10:11 am
  8. Hi Max,

    Thanks for confirming why I stayed away from Kashi! Yes, WHF does sell their product and why I still read all labels when I shop there. Sounds like the major corps. are attempting a “naturalwashing” in order to sell their products the same that they have been greenwashing.

    Written by Marilyn on September 10, 2011 @ 12:25 pm
  9. Hi Marilyn,

    It is a very good question. I do not know why Whole Foods is selling Kashi products but is something that I will be looking into.

    Thanks for your interest and support.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on September 11, 2011 @ 2:04 pm
  10. Hello Deliciously Organic,

    “Natural Flavor” is one of those things that is very vague. Many flavors, which are derived “naturally” from foods are classified as such. Many are legitimate while others are suspect. Some natural flavors are just certified organic and therefore can’t be called anything other than natural.

    I think you need to weigh two factors.

    1) Is the product certified organic? If so, the amount of natural flavoring will be very, very small.
    2) Is this a brand I trust.

    If it is a Stonyfield product, I trust it.
    If it is a Kashi product, I do not trust it.

    Hope this helps.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on September 11, 2011 @ 2:08 pm
  11. This is some serious anti-science fearmongering, and sadly, far too many people who read it don’t have the basic knowledge to critique your fear-based commentary.

    Injectable vitamin K is a prescription drug. Do you know what else is a prescription drug? Injectable vitamin C. Injectable caffeine (yes, it exists). Injectable chemotherapy. Hint: all injectable drugs require a prescription. You can buy a calcium supplement with added vitamins D and K (brand name: Viactiv) at most major drug stores.

    Molybdenum is a necessary trace mineral that’s found in the soil. It’s a cofactor in DNA metabolism, and deficiencies have been linked to esophageal cancer. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-molybdenum-deficiency.htm

    Acetone (your apparent problem with bromelain) is also a natural part of the human body’s metabolic processes. Anyone who’s done Atkins has purposefully generated acetone (one of the ketone bodies), and the human body can metabolize it. No, that doesn’t mean you should go out and drink a bottle of it, but in the trace amounts left from processing and extraction are well within the amount a healthy body can handle.

    Let’s see if you approve this comment.

    Written by Conni on September 13, 2011 @ 12:39 pm
  12. Hi Conni,

    If you read my post correctly, which you apparently did not, it talks about the Kashi lawsuit and everything that it alleges. Not that “I” allege but that the lawsuit alleges.

    While I am not a scientist and do not pretend to have the knowledge to counter your arguments that you made in your comment, there were many other “questionable” ingredients that the class actions lawyers point out in their suit.

    I can say two things.

    1) We will have to see how the lawsuit plays out. Class action lawyers work on contingency and unless they think they have a very strong case, they don’t take them on. Does that mean that they are always right and always win? No, but let’s wait and see.

    2) There is a MAJOR problem with the use and abuse of the word “natural” in this country. Natural stands for nothing while organic has strict standards and enforcement. If class action lawsuits are the only way to crack down on the use of “natural” and inadvertently inform consumers that “organic” is superior to “natural”, then I am all for it.

    Furthermore, anyone who doesn’t think that “natural” is an abused marketing term doesn’t have a shred of intellectual honesty.

    There is no reason that I would not approve your comment. Simply because you have a different view than mine or you have a problem with what I have written about doesn’t mean that I won’t approve it.

    In the future, please understand that comments may not get approved for up to 48 hours. Your complaining about me on Twitter for not approving your comment within 3 hours after posting it speaks volumes about you.

    I try to get to them as fast as I can but sometimes it is not as fast as I, or readers, would like.

    Lastly, I would love to know how reporting about a class action lawsuit is fear-mongering? Maybe you are the one who is afraid that the truth is going to come out.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on September 13, 2011 @ 5:23 pm
  13. This post is not about Kashi…Do you know where the fruit is grown that is used in Naked Juice smoothies?

    Written by Lorna on December 27, 2011 @ 6:59 pm
  14. Hi Lorna,

    I have been asked this question before and I do not have an answer. Many people speculate that the fruit is coming from China but I cannot say for sure whether that is the case.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on December 28, 2011 @ 3:25 pm
  15. Hi Max,

    I happened upon your website this evening, looks interesting.

    Wondering if the Kashi case has gone to court yet and, if so, do you know the outcome?

    Thanks!

    Lori

    Written by Lori Boyd on January 25, 2012 @ 8:15 pm
  16. Hi Lori,

    I have not heard anything from the lawyer who filed the class action lawsuit against Kashi.

    I am in contact with her every so often, so my guess is that there is no new news. These things generally take several years to sort themselves out.

    A big corporation who is guilty is not going to admit guilt until far into the process.

    As soon as I hear something noteworthy, I will definitely let everyone know.

    Thanks.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on January 26, 2012 @ 1:30 pm
  17. Dear Max,
    As of lately, I’ve been hearing alot about corp.’s using a newer sweetener that is 1000 times stronger than aspartame, therefore, only needing such a small amount that they are able to list at the bottom of their ingredients as natural flavors. I have heard also of organic foods sneaking this in too. This newer sweetner is called Neotame. I am wondering if any of the aforementioned products contain such ingredient.

    Written by Cheryl DeCaire on February 25, 2012 @ 10:32 am
  18. Hi Cheryl,

    To be honest, I am not 100% sure. It may say something about it in the official lawsuit (PDF document) that I put in the post.

    From what I have read, Neotame is allowed in organics. Hence, be very careful about what brands you buy from. Buy from brands that you trust and wouldn’t put this very questionable ingredient in their products.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on February 28, 2012 @ 9:41 pm
  19. Is this just a cover up? http://www.kashi.com/nongmo
    Is there anymore news on the lawsuit?

    Written by Emily on April 24, 2012 @ 10:32 pm
  20. HI Max,
    I’m curious I recently bought a few boxes of Kashi’s Organic cinnamon cereal.. Does this article apply to those boxes as well, even though they are stamped with the USDA organic seal. I stay away from brands that just say they are all natural and I typically only like to buy organic ones.. this is very upsetting news to read about new sugars and things they are putting in!

    Thank you for you information!
    Paula

    Written by Paula on April 25, 2012 @ 1:26 pm
  21. Hi Emily,

    They do have some certified organic products but in no way should this company be considered an organic one. Not even close.

    I have no new news to report. I checked with the lawyer but haven’t heard back yet.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on April 25, 2012 @ 6:38 pm
  22. Hi Paula,

    The lawsuit references GoLean and TLC products are marketed as “all-natural”.

    Take comfort in that “the gig” is coming to an end for these big corporate food companies. Consumers (and lawyers) are not going to take it anymore.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on April 25, 2012 @ 6:40 pm
  23. Conni’s comment is 100% correct concerning her science, however I don’t think that it was max’s intention to promote fear-mongering, or spread misconception about the safety of ingredients in food. I believe the idea was to shed some light on what people are doing to make food choices a little more transparent, and to prevent highly skilled marketing firms from preying upon people who care about eating the right things, but don’t necessarily have a background in nutrition/toxicology/medicine etc….i do but that’s only slightly important.

    Another thing that should be pointed out, for those that like to eat kashi products, and are like, omg, gasp. Don’t worry too much. Essentially none of the stuff in those bars/cereals would actually pose a problem other than the fact that being lied to about being all-natural might offend your delicate sensibilities.

    Rule of thumb, generally if it’s put in food, it’s either such a tiny amount, to not matter, or it does not cause toxcity at anything but megadose levels. There are more dangerous ingredients in food than molybdenum, take sugar for example, or salt. You probably would need to sit and eat 1000 kashi bars a day to have molybdenum poisoning, and maybe 10000 to have vitamin k toxicity…SPINACH and KALE for example have orders of magnitude more of some of the chemicals mentioned than kashi go lean products even if they are organic…

    A lot of the additives in the lawsuit, appear to be essential vitamins which means that regardless of their synthesis (plant, bacteria, animal, laboratory) they ARE natural, definitely not organic though ( i personally don’t care that much)…They are the same chemical, no matter where they came from, they behave the same in the body, they look the same on an NMR spectra, IR spectra, what have you…Companies that add these things to fortify cereals, etc. are generally doing the world a favor by making it easy to get balanced nutrition (and cheaply), only its sad that they have to muddy their reputations by using terms like all natural that don’t mean anything…If organic implies standards as max notes, then people should make some standards for terms like natural too i suppose.

    A note that should assuage some fears: when doing your research, like max says, always try to think about the actual dose that might make it to your systemic circulation if you can figure it out and what happens to it when it gets there. Think of all the wonderful detoxifying mechanisms your body will use to deal with just about everything you could throw at it…fact: “organic” veggies have myriad delightful phytotoxins, that we have evolved to detox too:)

    Above all, if you truly want to eat natural and organic foods, grow your own vegetables, raise your own livestock… be a bushman or something:)

    But, if you want to be a really healthy person and don’t want to be a bushman, try some of Mr. Goldberg’s advice, its really good.. and sorry max if this post may have seemed like it was trying to do downplay any of your food advice at times. I do try to eat like you most of the time, because it simply is the better way to go, if you can. Keep up the good work:)

    Written by Greg on May 6, 2012 @ 12:24 am
  24. Hi Greg,

    Thanks for your kind words. I do my best to give people information, so they can make educated decisions about what is best for their own health.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on May 6, 2012 @ 9:18 pm
  25. You go Max! It’s people like Connie that keeps companies like Kashi filling our foods with CRAP! Being a breast cancer survivor in my 30′s ( no family history) it really makes me beyond angry to think I’ve been eating foods that I thought were good for me. Kashi will NEVER be found in my home again.

    Thank you for the article!

    Best,

    Jennifer

    Written by jennifer on May 7, 2012 @ 7:27 pm
  26. Hi Jennifer,

    Happy to provide the info to you. People need to be very careful what they are buying and be INCREDIBLY wary of marketing gimmicks and “all natural” claims.

    Thanks for reading!

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on May 7, 2012 @ 10:04 pm
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    Written by best bricklayers melbourne on July 25, 2012 @ 2:44 pm
  28. Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope many people do read this information because more people need to be eating organic.

    Again, very appreciative.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on July 26, 2012 @ 1:11 pm
  29. I think it’s unfair to accuse you of being anti-science. Such proponents make their ignorance evident. As if to say, “oh, all technology is good!” If that is so, then why is there such an interest to inhibit innovation? Explain that will you, Connie! We know you stand for gene guns, non-hemp ethanol and all that good stuff!

    Wondering how that case went too, I think I’ll check up on it. I wasn’t even aware of it until today, but this really helps.

    Written by Jayesper on November 22, 2012 @ 3:36 pm
  30. Hi Jayesper,

    Thanks for your comment. I interviewed the lawyer on the case and an update will be posted shortly. Stay tuned….

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on November 23, 2012 @ 2:55 pm
  31. Hi Max,

    I so appreciate you posting about Kashi’s misleading and improper use of the word “natural.” Although a few of the comments state that the ingredients used in Kashi are not harmful, consumers should have the right to decide if they want to consume these ingredients and should be able to make smart decisions about the food they eat. Thank you for the great article. As a brief aside,I hope comments like Connie’s do not bring you down. It is incredibly obvious you have 100% pure and good intentions in your post. Keep up the good work and thanks again for the great information!

    Happy Holidays,

    Emma

    Written by Emma M. on December 9, 2012 @ 9:16 pm
  32. Hi Emma,

    Thanks so much for your kind words. And consumers absolutely have a right to know what is in their food!!

    Much appreciated.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on December 11, 2012 @ 12:27 pm
  33. Dear Max:
    I have been eating Kashi cereals since August of this year because I am on a low-sodium diet.

    As of today, (1/12/13) I had no idea of the lawsuit against Kashi, and yesterday, I bought two more of their cereals, Autumn Wheat which says it is organic and Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal which does not say it is organic.

    I am very concerned about using either of these products and since they have not been opened, I will most likely be returning them to the store for a refund.

    Which Organic cereals can I trust that have low-sodium in them and still can be classified, and trusted, to be an organic cereal. What do you recommend?

    Thank you for your time and please keep us informed about this lawsuit.

    Susan

    Written by Susan A. Stoneman on January 12, 2013 @ 9:25 am
  34. Hi Susan,

    Take a look at the cereal scorecard that Cornucopia put together. There are several trusted brands in there, including Nature’s Path.

    http://livingmaxwell.com/cereal-scorecard-cornucopia

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on January 12, 2013 @ 11:03 am
  35. Thank you for this information. Truly appreciate it and looking forward to receiving information from you as it comes in.

    Written by Susan Stoneman on January 12, 2013 @ 12:29 pm
  36. Hi Susan,

    My pleasure and I’ll be sure to keep you all updated.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on January 14, 2013 @ 3:26 pm
  37. 2% of Americans farm. I am a member of that minority. Take it from me, a farmer who plows 200 acres of corn, 120 acres of legumes, and over a 300 acres of potatoes, the “Organic Movement” is a Big Business Scam.

    It is not, nor has it ever been, motivated by Health. Manure is far more toxic than anything pioneer sells me.

    We do both and, I’ll be 100% honest, I use 10 times the diesel managing the “organic” tats and charge 5 times more for a lesser product.

    BTW: You “organic” people have no idea what you are buying. I have seen it! Organic is much MUCH bigger business than “normal” and the big companies (yes, your enemy) is aware of this.

    Written by nb Allen on March 20, 2013 @ 10:36 am
  38. Kashi is not good food

    BUT

    I DIS-agree with this article. The three ingredients listed are all VERY important for health. Vit K, Bromelain, and molybendum.

    Anyone who is recovering from a serious illness knows the importance of all three of these!

    Written by JasonMChicago on April 18, 2013 @ 4:02 pm
  39. […] major food companies, including Naked Juice (Pepsi) and Kashi (Kellogg’s), have faced or are facing class actions lawsuits for using the word “natural” on […]

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