SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) - Kashi has agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit claiming its products contained unnaturally processed and synthetic ingredients.
Kellogg also says it will stop using "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" labels on certain Kashi products as part of an agreement to settle the class action lawsuit.
Kashi will pay class counsel the court-approved fees and expenses up to a maximum of $1.25 million, according to the settlement document filed May 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
The suit accused Kashi of misleading people by stamping the phrase "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" on products that contained a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients.
Among the ingredients listed in the suit were pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, hexane-processed soy ingredients, ascorbic acid, glycerin and sodium phosphate, according to court documents.
Class members may seek reimbursement of $0.50 per package for every product purchased between Aug. 24, 2007, and May 2, for which they can present written proof of purchase in the form of a receipt or a retail rewards submission.
Class members may make a claim for every package of the products for which they submit a valid claim form. For products for which class members cannot present such proof of purchase, class members may seek reimbursement of $0.50 per package, with a maximum recovery of $25, according to the settlement document.
Kashi has also agreed to pay incentive awards to the class representatives - Skye Astiana, Milan Babic, Tamara Diaz, Tamar Larsen and Kimberly S. Sethavanish - not to exceed $4,000 per representative plaintiff.
The settlement follows a growing number of food mislabeling class action lawsuits filed mainly in federal courts in California that focus on using labels that claim the products are all natural when they are not.
Earlier this month, a lawsuit was filed against Marie Callender for claiming its baking mixes were not all natural.
In March, Heinz was sued when a woman claimed its "all natural" vinegar contained genetically modified corn.
Trader Joe's agreed to a $3.375 million settlement in February over alleged mislabeling of products as "all natural" or "100% natural" that actually contained synthetic ingredients.
Last year, PepsiCo Inc. agreed to remove the word "natural" from its "Simply Natural" line of Frito-Lay chips. It also changed the name of its "Natural Quaker Granola" to "Simply Quaker Granola."
PepsiCo also agreed to remove the words "all natural" from its Naked juices to settle a lawsuit in 2013.
The FDA is currently hearing comments regarding whether or not food labels should be allowed to use these terms.
The plaintiffs were represented by Joseph N. Kravec Jr. and Wyatt A. Lison of Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec LLC and Nadeem Faruqi, Antonio Vozzolo and Andrea Clisura of Faruqi & Faruqi LLP.
Kashi was represented by Kenneth K. Lee, Kate T. Spelman and Dean N. Panos of Jenner & Block LLP.
The case was assigned to District Judge Marilyn L. Huff.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California case number: 3:11-cv-01967