Sustainable Pulse - Sept. 5th, 2018
Bob’s Red Mill is facing a federal class action, filed in San Francisco Friday, after the world’s most used weedkiller, glyphosate, was discovered in both its organic and non-organic oats.
Citing a recent report by the Environmental Working Group finding traces of the ‘known carcinogen’ glyphosate in Cheerios, Quaker Oats and other oat-based breakfast foods, plaintiffs Tamara Frankel and Natasha Paracha said Friday that Bob’s Red Mill knew its oat products contain or likely contain the chemical, but didn’t disclose it on the label.
Instead, they say, the Oregon-based company labeled the products with phrases such as “gluten free,” “wheat free” and “purity tested,” leading consumers to believe them to be healthy.
“Consumers have a reasonable expectation that material product information, such as the presence of a probable carcinogen like glyphosate, will be provided by a product manufacturer, especially when the manufacturer affirmatively identifies the health-related attributes of its products such as “Gluten Free”, “Whole Grain”, and “Friend of the Heart,” the complaint states, adding that the labeling amounts to “misleading half-truths.”
Frankel and Paracha say Bob’s Red Mill had a duty to disclose the presence of glyphosate in its oats and that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, because consumers don’t have easy access to the information. They want a court order blocking the company from continuing to advertise the products as healthy.
They seek to certify classes of consumers in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Washington. In the alternative, they seek to certify a California-only class.
Patricia Syverson with Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint in San Diego represents Frankel and Paracha.
In late August, it was also announced that General Mills is facing a potentially damaging class action lawsuit after a Florida woman accused it of engaging in deceptive business practices, by not alerting the public that their Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios cereals contain glyphosate.
A 2016 testing project on glyphosate residues in popular American foods by Sustainable Pulse’s partner The Detox Project and Food Democracy Now! is one of the main pieces of evidence being used in the case, according to the court documents, after it found levels of glyphosate in both Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios as well as many other products.
This wave of class actions against food companies has caused many food brands to start seeking The Detox Project’s Glyphosate Free certification, according to their Director, Henry Rowlands; “The Detox Project has received a massive rise in enquiries from food brands regarding Glyphosate Residue Free certification, ranging from baby food to honey to supplement brands. So far we have 15 brands from around the world fully certified but over 50 brands have been in touch during the last week.”