by: Lynn A. Toops, Attorney
As a class action attorney and mother of two toddlers under the age of 3, I am applejuice.jpgconstantly struggling to find healthy snacks and drinks that my children can eat or drink on the go. Before buying any packaged food for my children, I scour the label to make sure that I’m making the healthiest choice possible. Unfortunately, a recent class action case shows that a product’s label may not really tell you much (or even the truth about) what’s in the package.

In Larsen v. Trader Joe’s Co., No. C 11-05188 SI, 2013 WL 132442 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 9, 2013), two consumers brought class action claims against Trader Joe’s for its labeling, marketing, and sale of “all natural” or “100% juice” apple juice. The plaintiffs alleged that the apple juice actually contained a synthetic or non-natural ingredient, ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is a chemically modified form of vitamin C used in foods as a chemical preservative. It is produced from corn or wheat starch being converted to glucose, then to sorbitol, through a series of chemical processes. The consumers alleged that they wished to avoid synthetic, artificial, or chemical ingredients and that Trader Joe’s profited unfairly by marketing and selling the “all natural” or “100% juice” at a higher price to consumers. The Northern District of California recently denied Trader Joe’s motion to dismiss the case.
After reading the Trader Joe’s case, I looked at the ingredients of many products I frequently purchase for my children and noticed that a large majority of them contain ascorbic acid. So what’s a parent to do if reading a product’s label doesn’t really tell you the truth about the product? Education is key to making healthy food choices for your children. is an excellent resource to help parents understand food labels, benefits, and claims. I’ve also recently started using the Fooducate app on my iPhone, which allows me to scan the barcodes of products and the app issues a grade (A through F) for the product and lets me know about things like high sugar levels or the presence of genetically modified organisms.
But the bottom line for all parents is that you can’t really believe everything you read on a product’s label.
photo credit: Jorbasa via photopin cc