Kashi Cereal Food Fight Shows We’re Frustrated With Empty Labels

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cerealDoes the label "natural" mean anything to you when you see it plastered on a package of food?

There was quite a dust-up in the cereal aisle over this question last week. A grocer in Portsmouth, RI pulled Kashi cereal from his shelves and posted a sign explaining why:

You might be wondering where your favorite Kashi cereals have gone. It has recently come to our attention that 100% of the soy used in Kashi products is genetically modified, and that when the USDA tested the grains used there were found to be pesticides that are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors.

Someone posted a photo of that sign and it went viral -- which triggered an anti-Kashi backlash online. People were shocked because Kashi cereals have that "natural" health food halo. Was this a case of false advertising? Or is this just another case of food labeling being utterly meaningless?

Kashi isn't the first company to stir up controversy over the "natural" label. Trader Joe's, Naken Juice, Ben & Jerry's, and other food companies are being sued over their "all natural" claims. But what does "all natural" even mean?

It can mean ANYTHING. There is absolutely no industry-wide standard for what "natural" means. No official definition for the FDA, and no official definition for the Federal Trade Commission.

But because the idea of natural food is catching on with shoppers (especially us moms!), food companies are slappin' that label on as fast as they can. They might as well be putting "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" on the packages. They could put "all natural!" on a package of freaking bubblegum if they wanted to. Seriously.

I feel like we're living in an age where half of us still really care about what's in our food, so we're reading the ingredients labels with a magnifying glass and desperately trying to keep up with all the different kinds of certifications out there. And then the other half of us have pretty much said, "Screw it! What's on sale?!?" because it all just seems so confusing. We know the "organic" label is actually regulated, but what if you can't afford organic food?

Not everyone cares about buying "natural" food. But the big fight last week shows that we do resent it when food manufacturers aren't being straight with us. Kashi has since posted a video saying that they've partnered with the Non-GMO Project and that seven (of their over 80) products are GMO-free. It's good that people are paying more attention and demanding more accountability from companies. But it's also not like we have loads of time to keep up with all these food controversies.

Do you trust food labels?


Image via musicfanatic29/Flickr

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nonmember avatar Amanda v

I already know about the "all natural" murkiness, so no surprise here. It is a shame though, particularly when it involves companies that make you want to buy their much more expensive products under total misrepresentation. Perhaps it won't be much longer before all natural will actually mean what buyers expect, but that requires more people to educate themselves and then demand companies be honest.

nonmember avatar Graciesmom

Kashi is being unfairly targeted IMO. If u buy anything with corn or soy (most items in center aisles) it has GMO. Increased regulation is not feasible - educate urself abt our food supply and buy accordingly. GMO has benefits but the operations of companies like Monsanto need more transparency - they have a monopoly on what we eat

nonmember avatar Anon

Kashi was bought by Kellogg in 2000. Kashi ads talk about being natural but it's marketing, nothing more. It's like when a donut is advertised as having calcium while a glass of milk floats by. Clever, but nutritionally a donut and milk are not comparable. The only way to know what you're eating is to read the labels.

Kaela Wheeler

Natural is not the same as organic (which must be pesticide free and non GMO), if your kashi cereal doesn't say organic, the natural label just means it doesn't contain chemical preservatives, HFCS, etc.

Kaela Wheeler

...Reading the original article though, it looks like Kashi was violating the natural label too, although none of the kashi products I've got in my cupboards has unnatural ingredients. It's always a good idea to read your labels, even if it's 100% organic, that doesn't make it good for you!

suziejax suziejax

I do not trust labels anymore and I try to look closer each time

nonmember avatar Paul

Kashi is most definitely NOT being unfairly targeted... They have a similar story to Burt's Bees, They started out a good companies with good products, established a good rep and name for themselves, and then were bought out by larger companies that don't give a darn about natural nor organic. These companies know they can use the once trusted brand to hock their junky products to unsuspecting consumers who thinks that brands are safe. Kellogg’s could have chosen to keep Kashi the same, but they didn't because they knew they could make a ton of money by charging more for the cheeper GMO ingredients, slapping a natural label on the box, and riding the gravy train until the brand lost all meaning... If you currently use products like Burt's bees or Kashi, STOP!!! Don't ever buy them again, they are not the same products. They are imposters, shams, snake oil, phonies, tools of the con trade that are tricking you out your hard earned money that should be spent on products that deserve your financial vote. Shop smart, stay smart, and expect any brand to change at any time.

jessi... jessicasmom1

expect it to happen when the big wigs join the barge

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