In September 2013, Ryan Richards filed a class action suit against Safeway, Inc., a California corporation, claiming the grocery store unlawfully and deceptively marketed its Open Nature brand frozen waffles as “100% Natural”, when the product contained the chemical preservative Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (SAPP), in violation of California business code and consumer protection laws.
SAPP is an odorless white powder with various uses in the food service industry, including as a leavening agent in baking powders. The substance is also used for stain removal in treating leather and to facilitate hair and feather removal in animal slaughter. Excessive use can lead to imbalanced mineral levels in the body and bone loss.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Richards alleges that he purchased Safeway Open Nature 100% Natural Multi-Grain waffles for himself and his daughter at Safeway grocery stores in California multiple times over several years in reliance on the accuracy of the label representation that the products were “100% Natural.” He alleges that he paid a higher price for the waffles than he would have to pay for similar products that were not labeled “100% Natural” (i.e. , waffles that were acknowledged to contain synthetic ingredients). Richards claims he would not have purchased the products if he had known that a synthetic ingredient was contained in the products.
Safeway developed the Open Nature product line for consumers looking for products with all natural ingredients and marketed the line as “made with the best quality ingredients that nature offers.” The company website asked consumers to “trust” Safeway that ingredients would be listed on the front of the package, warned of “hidden ingredients, like artificial flavors, colors, and preservative,” and noted the lack of federal oversight of natural products.
According to FDA policy, a product is not accurately described as “natural” if it contains color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. In September 2014, the FDA warned a Massachusetts bakery that the use of the term "ALL NATURAL” on a bakery product was considered to be misbranding, in violation of section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [21 USC § 343(a)(1)], because the product contained SAPP, a synthetic ingredient. Click here to read the FDA letter. The Safeway Open Nature packaging allegedly included the representation “100% Natural” and appeared nine times and on all six sides of the product packaging.
Article Type: Lawsuit