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A California Lawsuit Is Coming For Aldi Over Natural Ingredients Claims

Aug 04, 2023Aug 04, 2023

As we already know, phrases like "natural flavors" on food packaging can be major red flags. In an interview with The New York Times, one expert pointed out that regulations around "natural" flavors and ingredients are lax enough that companies can add preservatives and other chemicals — essentially creating "artificial" flavors — while still masquerading as "natural."

However, just because these products slip past U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, doesn't mean they also go unnoticed by customers. Aldi is now finding this out the hard way, with a class action lawsuit seeking nearly $10 million for misrepresentation of granola bars.

According to the packaging shown on the Aldi website, the bars contain "real fruit filling" and "no artificial flavors." That being said, a quick perusal of the bars' ingredients turns up citric and malic acids, as well as both natural and artificial flavors. Being that these ingredients are at odds with the packaging's claims, the class action lawsuit claims consumers were misinformed.

As mentioned earlier, Aldi's granola bars contain more than just "natural" flavors and ingredients. Malic acid, while sometimes naturally occurring, can also be synthetic, and for that reason has led to legal problems for companies like General Mills in recent years. Likewise, citric acid can be naturally occurring, but more often than not, the citric acid used in food is manufactured.

According to Newsweek, the lawsuit claims that the brand knowingly and intentionally marketed the granola bars as "natural," regardless of the ingredients. What's more, this inconsistency in labeling allegedly violates several California codes for businesses.

It remains to be seen how the case against Aldi will shake down in a court of law should the lawsuit proceed to a trial by jury. In the case of the 2021 General Mills lawsuit, the court decided the packaging could be potentially deceptive but rejected an injunction to force the company to change the packaging, leaving the case for a later ruling. However, lawsuits like General Mills' and Aldi's show that consumers can't always trust what's advertised on the box.