Nestlé Under Fire Over Misleading “No GMO Ingredients” Labeling

Nestlé is facing a proposed class action lawsuit alleging the company falsely labels certain products as containing “No GMO Ingredients”, when the in fact reportedly do.

Plaintiff Jennifer Latiff filed the Nestlé GMO class action lawsuit in California federal court last Friday. Latiff says that she purchased Nestlé products, specifically Lean Cuisine Marketplace frozen dinners and Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss creamer with the No GMO ingredients seal.

Many consumers are sensitive to genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in their food and want to avoid them for a variety of reasons, including GMOs’ possible negative impact on the environment. As a result, many consumers, like Latiff, try to purchase products that are not derived from GMOs.

In an attempt to meet consumers’ demand for non-GMO products, an industry of independent, third-party validation companies has developed. These independent companies review the ingredients in products to assure that the products either do not contain GMOs, or do not come from animals fed GMO food. Thus, obtaining the approval from an independent third party allows companies to obtain an advantage in the market place over their competitors, in order to sell more products and charge higher prices.

However, according the Nestlé GMO class action lawsuit, Nestlé falsely represents to consumers that these and other products it sells have been certified by an independent third party as not containing GMO ingredients by affixing a No GMO Ingredients seal on the products. Unfortunately, the 18-page complaint contends that the No GMO Ingredients seal is not from a neutral third party, but instead the work of Nestlé itself attempting to capitalize on the consumer demand for non-GMO products.

“Looking to profit off consumer desire for independently validated products, Defendant has created a deceptive No GMO IngredientsTM seal of approval label that mimics the Non-GMO Project seal,” the Nestlé GMO class action lawsuit states.

Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that the ingredients in certain Nestlé products are in fact derived from GMOS. For example, Nestlé products that contain dairy come from cows fed GMO grains – a violation of the Non-GMO Project standard, which does not allow for its seal of approval to be placed on dairy based products that could be from animals fed GMO feed.

As a result of this alleged deceptive labeling practice, consumers paid significantly more to purchase a non-GMO product to avoid possible health and environmental risks associated with GMO products. In bringing this proposed class action lawsuit, Latiff is hoping to end Nestlé’s alleged false representations and help consumers recover their money spent. She is seeking to represent a nationwide Class of consumers who purchased any of Nestlé’s products bearing the No GMO Ingredients seal label.

Latiff is represented by Michael R. Reese and George V. Granade of Reese LLP and Daniel L. Warshaw and Bobby Pouya of Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP.

The Nestlé “No GMO” Labeling Class Action Lawsuit is Jennifer Latiff v. Nestlé USA Inc., Case No. 2:18-cv-06503, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division.

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