General Mills agrees to remove fruit images from its strawberry-less strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups
|ewan traveler and bradleygee via Flickr|
|They might both be red, but this guy on the right doesn't actually contain any of the berries on the left.|
Starting in 2014, packaging for the popular snack food will have to be more up front about both of those claims. General Mills has agreed to ditch images of strawberries on that product's label and to include what percentage of the ingredients justify the "made with real fruit" line.
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The Golden Valley-based company isn't making these concessions out of the goodness of its corporate heart. Instead, they come as part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed last fall by a California woman and a watchdog group, Center for Science in the Public Interest, which alleged violations of California and Minnesota consumer protection laws.
While strawberry-flavored Fruit Roll-Ups do contain some pear concentrate, the recipe doesn't call for any of the berries in its name. After the pear, the candy consists of mainly corn syrup, dried corn syrup, and cottonseed oil.
CSPI's litigations director told MSN Money that General Mills was marketing the product to parents as a healthy fruit snack for kids, even though it isn't. Current FDA regulations, however, allow food companies to say a product contains something as long as it describes the flavor.
|ralph and jenny via Flickr|
|Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups contain about as many strawberries as this cookie.|
General Mills tried to get the suit thrown out, but in May a federal judge in San Francisco rejected the effort, writing that a "reasonable consumer" could be thrown by the fruit claim.
At the time, Reuters reported, the judge wrote, "The fruit snacks' ingredients list cannot be used to correct the message that reasonable consumers may take from the rest of the packaging: that the fruit snacks are made with a particular type and quantity of fruit."
To put an end to litigation, the company decided to settle. Now, as long as the ingredients list remains strawberry-free, those berries can't be shown on the label.
The agreement, however, only applies to the strawberry flavor. Fans of the rest of the fruity snack varieties, proceed with caution.