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Suit Prompts Kellogg's to Drop "Natural" Labels on Kashi Products

Cereal giant Kellogg's says it will no longer use the labels "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" on certain Kashi products as part of an agreement to settle a class-action lawsuit. The company will also pay $5 million to settle the suit.

In a statement, Kashi's corporate parent, Kellogg Co. said it stood by its advertising and labeling practices but that it would change its formulas or labels nationally by the end of the year.

The suit had accused Kashi of misleading people by using the phrase "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" on products that contained a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients. Among the ingredients listed in the suit were pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, hexane-processed soy ingredients, ascorbic acid, glycerin and sodium phosphate.

What is "natural" food? Kellogg's says it will drop the label on some Kashi products that contain chemical ingredients.
What is "natural" food? Kellogg's says it will drop the label on some Kashi products that contain chemical ingredients. KAREN BLEIER / AFP/Getty Images

The settlement was filed May 2 in U.S. District Court in California and is subject to court approval.

As people look to stick to diets they feel are wholesome, companies have flooded supermarket shelves with products marketed as being "natural." But more recently, numerous lawsuits have challenged their use of the term on products that contain ingredients some say don't fit that definition.

The mounting legal challenges have prompted several companies to remove the word from packaging. PepsiCo Inc., for instance, changed its "Simply Natural" line of Frito-Lay chips to "Simply," even though the ingredients didn't change. Likewise, its "Natural Quaker Granola" was changed to "Simply Quaker Granola."

PepsiCo also agreed to remove the words "all natural" from its Naked juices to settle a lawsuit that noted the drinks contained artificial ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration says it doesn't have an official definition for the term "natural," noting that a food product has likely been processed and is "no longer the product of the earth." But the agency notes that it has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.

- The Associated Press