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Federal Judge Preliminarily Approves Settlement in Case Against Barbara's Bakery

A federal judge in California issued a ruling on June 21, 2013 preliminarily approving a settlement in a case brought against Barbara's Bakery. The plaintiffs in the case found the company, which produces cereals and other snack products, to have violated consumer protection laws. Namely, Richard Trammell claimed that the company violated California's unfair competition law, is false advertising law, and the state's Consumer Legal Remedies Act. The labels on Barbara's Bakery products claimed that they were "all natural" when in fact they contained genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The company benefitted from the growing importance consumers have placed on natural products in recent years. Its products are sold in health food stores across the America and consumers purchased the products believing that they were indeed "all natural."
Under the class definition in the proposed settlement, class members include consumers nationwide who purchased Barbara's products at any time since May 23, 2008. Each consumer is eligible to receive up to $100 from the $4 million settlement fund. No receipts will be required in order to recover that money. The more than 40 products included in the settlement include the popular Puffins, Snackimals, and Ultima Organic cereals, as well as multigrain cereal bars, cookies, crackers, and many flavors of snack mixes.

In addition to the settlement fund, Barbara's Bakery is being required to change its labeling, which is expected to be completed by August of this year. They will have to remove the labels "all natural," "no artificial additives," "no artificial preservatives," and "no artificial flavors," from any products that contain GMOs or artificial ingredients. The company is also being required to eliminate all GMOs from its products, a process it has commenced. The products will now be verified as GMO-free by a third-party verification system, namely The non-GMO Project, which is the largest third-party verification system for GMOs in the United States. To date the company has removed GMOs from 31 of 35 products it has on shelves in grocery stores across the country.
Richard Trammell v. Barbara's Bakery Inc., et al., No. 12-2664, N.D. Cal.

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