The Cornucopia Institute filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Hearthside Food Solutions, which manufactures Peace Cereal, is misleading consumers by suggesting that its "natural" breakfast cereals are grown and processed without pesticides.
The Peace Cereal website states that "natural foods are foods without pesticides or artificial additives, as well as being minimally processed and preservative-free." Unlike organics, there is no federally regulated standard for the term "natural" on foods, which contain conventional, non-organic ingredients.
"Natural foods are essentially conventional foods with a higher price tag, whereas organic foods are grown without the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers," explains Charlotte Vallaeys, Farm and Food Policy Analyst with Cornucopia. "Stating that 'natural foods' are 'without pesticides' is completely without basis, and highly misleading to consumers."
Peace Cereal, whose products were formerly certified organic, has been using conventional ingredients since 2008. Conventional ingredients are routinely sprayed with toxic pesticides and herbicides. Without organic certification, consumers cannot be assured that ingredients used in conventional products like Peace Cereal are truly "without pesticides."
The Cornucopia Institute is a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group. The group recently conducted an investigation which found numerous stores in several states that carried "organic" signs on shelves of the non-organic Peace Cereal, as well as mislabeled bulk bins with non-organic granola made by the same company as Peace Cereal.
"We view this company as a' bad actor,'" states Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of Cornucopia. "This company is clearly trying to profit from the good name and reputation of organics, and exploiting consumer trust."
Cornucopia noted, that, "adding insult to injury," non-organic Peace Cereal is often priced higher than namebrand certified organic breakfast cereals on supermarket shelves.