The manufacturer of Pop-Tarts, Kellogg is currently facing the possibility of a legal action class regarding its allegedly false food labeling for the strawberry Pop-Tarts. Explore Strawberry Pop Tart Nutrition Facts here!
The lawsuit filed in October stated it was based on the “Whole Grains Frosted Strawberry Toaster Cakes” packaging features strawberries written in the form of words and depicts its “bright red filling that matches the strawberry color.”
“The representations of strawberries are false because the product has fewer strawberries than the consumers might believe based on the labels,” the suit alleged.
Based on the list of ingredients on the packaging, The particular Pop-Tart is at least 2% of dried strawberries. The ingredient is listed at 18 following two other fruit products: dried apples and pears. Paprika extract’s color is added to enhance the color of the filling.
In this case, Spencer Sheehan, JD, the attorney, said in the Wall Street Journal that he hoped the class-action suit would force Kellogg to change its brand name.
Are Pop-Tarts Supposed to be a Healthy Food?
The suit noted that “consumers look for strawberries because of their health benefits” and healthy foods which satisfy their need for flavor without the guilt.
Sheehan stated that “reasonable consumers don’t expect to find a real freshly picked strawberry” in Pop-Tarts however the label makes them believe it’s a better quality product.
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Michelle Pillepich, MPH, RDN registered dietitian and personal trainer, shares with Verywell that food companies frequently profit from recent trends to encourage customers to spend more.
“In general food marketing, it’s focused on cash,” Pillepich says. Although Kellogg might not be saying that Pop-Tarts aren’t like fruit, she says Kellogg is aware that berries are fashionable and consumers will spend more money for them.
Inflating the number of strawberries in Pop-Tarts is only one of many examples of manipulative marketing practices in the industry of food.
For instance, federal regulators haven’t yet developed a common definition of “natural” in food labeling, yet it’s popping up everywhere on the shelves of grocery stores. 1The word “natural” is an image of health in cases where companies are using it to draw the interest of consumers, says Pillepich.
She says “the stress of what parents feed their children” might convince parents to buy the product with the label “strawberry”–which suggests it’s healthy–over an unattractive product.
Are Pop-Tarts the only product in the spotlight?
In the words of NPR, the number of class-action lawsuits filed against companies that sell food and beverages has increased by 1000% in the year 2008. Hundreds of these lawsuits were initiated by Sheehan.
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Sheehan has filed lawsuits against food companies labeled its products “vanilla,” but they’re not vanilla. Sheehan is also involved in a matter against Frito-Lay regarding the tiny amount of lime juice it uses in their “Hint of Lime” Tostitos chips.
Other companies have also taken legal actions against Post Consumer Brands for branding its products with”honey, “honey” in the sense that they’re sweetened by corn syrup and sugar. In 2014 the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the settlement in the lawsuit filed against Truvia for advertising the sugar-free sweetener as a natural being made up of synthetic ingredients.
A lot of these lawsuits settle before trial. Today, food labels are heavily populated with buzzwords such as “clean” as well as “natural.”
What to look for on food labels
The majority of the information on marketing for beverages and food is found on the packaging’s front. Customers should take a look at the nutrition label and the ingredients listed on the reverse of the packaging to know what ingredients the product has.
However, these labels aren’t always easy to understand. Sometimes, it’s easier to decide what to buy by looking at the buzzwords and images displayed in advance.
In August, lawmakers introduced a bill, dubbed the Food Labeling Modernization Act, that would control the display of food labels. If the bill is passed, it will require warning symbols or clear signals to indicate the overall quality of the food items.
The bill also aims to restrict the term “healthy” in food labeling, particularly for products with added sugars or are less than 100 percent whole grains.
At present, labels that are regulated have some issues in the field. The popular label “organic” is a requirement for products to be certified before using this term for marketing purposes, 2. but the certification process can be costly and takes a long time. Many organic products that come from small-scale producers aren’t labeled as such, Pillepich explains.
“Farmers at a market, for instance, could use all organic methods but don’t have enough money to purchase the certification,” she says. “They’re organic, but they aren’t receiving the benefits of marketing.”
She suggests focusing less on labels when shopping at the supermarket, as they may not always convey the full story.
“Think more broadly about the products you’re purchasing or eating,” She suggests. “Rather than just looking at what’s on the label, consider what’s the purpose of this food, and how it will relate to what I want in the bigger picture.”
She also advises not to focus excessively on the nutritional benefits of Pop-Tarts.
“Is it a fruit? No. Does that mean that isn’t available? No. It’s not a piece of fruit, and I’m not likely to think of it as one.” Pillepich states and adds that you can have strawberry pop-tarts whenever you’d like as well “have the real fruit whole in various ways.”