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An Alabama consumer has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Annie’s Homegrown and General Mills, alleging the companies falsely label Annie’s Naturals salad dressings as natural when they reportedly contain at least one highly synthetic ingredient.

Plaintiff Janell Johnson Campbell says she purchased Annie’s Natural salad dressing products, because as a health-conscious consumer, she was drawn to the representation that the dressing was a “natural” product. In her mind, she understood that there was no synthetic ingredient in Annie’s Natural salad dressing. Specifically, she contends that despite the salad dressing front bottom label stating the product has ““No artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or synthetic colors or synthetic preservatives”, the dressing actually contains a synthetic ingredient known as Xanthan Gum.

Xanthan Gum is a synthetic thickener that is commercially manufactured by fermenting bacteria with glucose, sucrose, or lactose, which is then sterilized with isopropyl alcohol before being dried and milled for use commercially as a powder – therefore it cannot be categorized as natural ingredient, according to the complaint.

Campbell Johnson assets that by labeling Annie’s Naturals salad dressings as containing no synthetic ingredients, the defendants took advantage of consumers who are interested in purchasing healthy food products that don’t contain harmful artificial synthetic ingredients.

“Because the Products are not in fact wholly natural, the Products are actually worth less than they are represented, and Plaintiff and class members have paid extra for them,” says the proposed class action lawsuit. Additionally, the Annie’s Naturals Salad Dressing class action lawsuit claims the defendants are wrongly profiting by charging a premium for a product that is in actuality not “wholly natural”.

“…neither Plaintiff nor any reasonable consumer when reviewing the label of the Products would know nor should know that Xanthan Gum is not natural, even though the Defendants include it on the reverse ingredients list of the Products,” the complaint states.

The proposed nationwide class action seeks to represent anyone who purchased Annie’s Naturals products “for personal, household, or family purposes” since 2011.

Campbell Johnson is requesting, among other things, an award for general, special, and punitive damages, and court costs. She is also asking the court to grant an order mandating within thirty days from filing of this complaint, Annie’s and General Mills rectify these alleged deceptive advertising practices, otherwise she will amend the proposed class action lawsuit to include damages for deceptive practices under California Civil Code.

This is not the first complaint filed against Annie’s Naturals. In May 2017, the company was hit with a similar false labeling class action lawsuit. This case, also filed in California federal court, alleges that Annie’s Naturals misrepresents that their dressings are “natural” despite knowing their products contain at least one (and sometimes more than one) ingredient that is highly chemically processed. The plaintiffs in this case assert that Annie’s Naturals purposely mislabels this line of salad dressings to capitalize on consumers who are willing to pay a premium for products labeled and advertised as natural.

Campbell Johnson is represented by John W. Davis of The Law Office of John W. Davis and Charles M. Thompson of Charles M. Thompson PC.

The Annie’s Naturals Salad Dressing False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit is Janell Johnson Campbell et al. v. Annie’s Homegrown, Inc. and General Mills, Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-07288 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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