A federal court in California has preliminarily approved the settlement of class claims that Quaker Oats violated consumer protection laws by labeling its snack bars and instant cereal products as “wholesome” with “0g Trans Fat” when they actually contain “unhealthy” ingredients, such as partially hydroge- nated vegetable oils (PHOs). In re Quaker Oats Labeling Litig., No. 10-0502 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., San Francisco Div., order entered February 12, 2014).
Under the proposed settlement, Quaker Oats, which admits no wrongdoing, has agreed to remove PHOs from products that contain them by December 31, 2015, and will not reintroduce PHOs into these products for 10 years. The company has also agreed to not introduce PHOs into products such as Quaker Chewy bars or Instant Quaker Oatmeal products that do not contain them for 10 years, and, by December 31, 2014, will cease stating on product labels “contains a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat” for any product containing 0.2 grams or more of artificial trans fat per serving. The company will pay up to $120,000 for class notice, and any additional costs will be split equally with the class. The court has scheduled a fairness hearing for May 8, 2014.