A California resident has filed a putative statewide class action alleging that Pepperidge Farm falsely advertised and labeled its Goldfish® crackers as “Natural” despite using genetically modified (GM), synthetic or artificial ingredients to make them. Koehler v. Pepperidge Farm, Inc., No. 13-2644 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., filed June 10, 2013). Among other matters, the plaintiff alleges that the company changed the product’s packaging and labeling to remove the “Natural” statement and characterizes this as “an implied admission that the Products were not natural at all material times hereto when the Plaintiff and putative Class Members purchased the Products that claimed to be ‘Natural’ and no longer make said claim.”

According to the complaint, the company’s cheddar-flavored products “contain genetically modified soy in the form of soybean oil, as well as the following ingredients, which, upon information and belief, were each synthetically produced: thiamine mononitrate (‘vitamin B1’), riboflavin (‘vitamin B2’), folic acid and leavening (monocalcium phosphate and ammonium bicarbonate baking soda).” In addition to actual, statutory and punitive damages, the plaintiff requests that the company be required to either remove “Natural” from its product labels or reformulate its products to remove any GM, artificial or synthetic substances. He also seeks attorney’s fees, costs and interest. The plaintiff alleges violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act; unfair, fraudulent and unlawful business practices; and false and misleading advertising.