An advocacy group says it's suing General Mills about claims on its fruit snacks, but the food company says it hasn’t seen the lawsuit and, regardless, stands behind the company's products.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) issued a media release claiming that General Mills’ labels on Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot, and Fruit Gushers are misleading. The group says it has filed a complaint on behalf of a California mother.

“Labels state those General Mills snacks are “fruit flavored,” “naturally flavored,” a “good source of vitamin C,” and low in calories, fat, and gluten... But obscured on labels is the fact that the so-called fruit snacks are mostly sugars (some from fruit concentrate and some from corn syrup), artificial additives, and potentially harmful artificial dyes,” the media release states.

“General Mills is basically dressing up a very cheap candy as if it were fruit and charging a premium for it,” says CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. “General Mills is giving consumers the false impression that these products are somehow more wholesome, and charging more. It’s an elaborate hoax on parents who are trying to do right by their kids.”

However, in a statement, General Mills says it stands behind its product, and to its knowledge the company had not been served with lawsuit.

“But it would not be unusual for CSPI to put out a press release before actually serving a lawsuit,” the company says. “We cannot comment further at this point, because to our knowledge we have not been served. But we may well have a statement if we are. We stand behind our products – and we stand behind the accuracy of the labeling of those products.”

CSPI says the complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, and that it points out that the presence of partially hydrogenated oil in “fruit” snacks marketed as healthy and wholesome is deceptive.

The complaint contends that the labeling of fruit-flavored snacks violates various state laws, including Minnesota’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and several California laws governing misleading and deceptive advertising and fraudulent business practices. General Mills is based in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

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