Food Libeling

I got a check in the mail the other day. $8.57.

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A year ago, a case was decided against PepsiCo for misrepresenting “all-natural” Naked Juice, which actually had a few synthetic ingredients in it, including (according to this website) “Archer Daniels Midland’s Fibersol-2 (‘a soluble corn fiber that acts as a low-calorie bulking agent’), fructooligosaccharides (an alternative sweetener), other artificial ingredients, such as calcium pantothenate (synthetically produced from formaldehyde), and genetically-modified soy.”

I honestly don’t remember how I learned of this class-action lawsuit, but I had indeed downed a few bottles of Naked Juice between Sept. 27, 2007, and Aug. 19, 2013, most of them at airports when I was on tour to promote Get Your Pitchfork On!, because it was one of the few remotely healthy items available. So, I filled out a claimant form.

This lawsuit—and its $9 million settlement (of which $3.12 million may go to the attorneys)—is chump change for PepsiCo, which denies wrongdoing and blames the lack of a federal definition of “natural” for the misunderstanding. But it’s indicative of the “food fight” that’s ramping up in the United States over who makes our food and what’s in it. Labeling efforts in New England, California, Washington and now, it appears, Oregon to identify genetically modified organisms in processed food are only the beginning. While I, personally, am less concerned about the health effects of GMOs and more concerned with the business practices of their parent companies (a big statement, I know), I do applaud this movement to know what’s in one’s food. It’s an old fight (think The Jungle by Upton Sinclair) and an important one.

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