A consumer has filed a putative class action against The Quaker Oats Co. alleging the company misrepresents its oatmeal products as natural and “eco-friendly” despite containing glyphosate, “a potent herbicide that last year was declared a probable human carcinogen by the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization.” Wheeler v. Quaker Oats Co., No. 16-5776 (N.D. Ill., removed to federal court June 1, 2016).
The complaint argues that although “[t]here is nothing unlawful about Quaker Oats’ growing and processing methods,” the company has misled consumers by claiming “that Quaker Oats is something that it is not in order to capitalize on growing consumer demand for healthful, natural products.” The plaintiff asserts that no reasonable consumer would believe that Quaker’s products “contain anything unnatural, or anything other than whole, rolled oats” after seeing Quaker’s packaging and advertising. For allegations of unjust enrichment, breach of warranties and violations of Illinois’ consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiff seeks class certification, a corrective advertising campaign, an injunction, an accounting, restitution and damages. A similar suit against Quaker Oats was filed in May 2016 and reported in Issue 603 of this Update.