Granola Bars Aren't 100% Natural, General Mills Agrees

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Maybe peace will fall over Nature Valley once again. A 2012 lawsuit has been settled between General Mills (GIS), which labeled items with high-fructose corn syrup as "100 percent natural," and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The settlement, announced Tuesday, prevents General Mills from claiming its Nature Valley granola bars, crispy squares and trail mix bars are "100 percent natural" if those products contain highly processed ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, high-maltose corn syrup and dextrose monohydrate, according to a statement from the Washington-based consumer advocacy group.

The settlement "helps nudge" the marketplace "awash in varyingly flimsy 'natural' claims, in the right direction," CSPI says.

That Label Is Gone

A company representative made it sound like the settlement is a non-issue. "We made changes to our label prior to the lawsuit," company representative Bridget Christenson wrote in an email.

That's news to attorney Steve Gardner, the CSPI litigation director, who told DailyFinance that he checked supermarkets before filing the suit and "saw labels with 100 percent natural on them."

"This is the first time I'm hearing that they changed at all. They did not raise it with any filing with the court," he said.

Gardner said he would have settled the suit earlier if the company had responded to his attempts to verify that package labels had been changed. He said he would have responded: "You changed. We got what we wanted. Let's settle it." In fact, the center's announcement of the settlement says it privately raised the issue with General Mills "as early as 2005."

In what amounts to a verbal shrug, Christenson said, "We don't always respond to CSPI. That is true."
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