How natural does ‘natural’ have to be? It appears that the Organic Consumers Association (and other groups) have an answer. A lawsuit from a few years ago has forced General Mills, makers of the crunchy granola snack Nature Valley, to drop the “100% Natural” label from their advertising. The snack contains traces of a chemical called glyphosate, which is actually a weed killer. The inclusion of this substance is in accordance with EPA standards (30 parts per million in grains), whereas Nature Valley products include .45 parts per million. Still, the OCA and 2 other organizations have shaken General Mills and are now having an impact on their product (and stock performance).
The organization and its counterparts in the lawsuit do have good intentions. Consumers should not be sold a literal bill of goods; if the product is not 100% natural, they should not be allowed to advertise as such. Still, Nature Valley bars are in no way an unhealthy breakfast snack. General Mills will find a way to work around this hiccup; there are ways to advertise the natural goodness in their granola snacks besides using the phrase 100% natural. They could even skirt the line and use the phrase “All-Natural” or “Made with Natural Ingredients”. One thing is for sure, General Mills did bite off a bit more than they can chew.