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Nature Valley Mislabeling Class Action Lawsuit Returns to D.C. Court

Plaintiffs in a Nature Valley class action lawsuit have won an effort to return the action to a District of Columbia superior court.

On Wednesday, U.S District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle granted the plaintiff’s motion for remand to D.C. Superior Court. The judge determined that while federal regulations are at least partly relevant to the plaintiffs’ misbranding claim, they are not relevant enough to confer jurisdiction on a federal court.

Plaintiffs Organic Consumers Association, Moms Across America and Beyond Pesticides are bringing this action against General Mills Inc., the makers of Nature Valley granola products.

The associations claim Nature Valley granola is falsely advertised with descriptors like 'natural' and 'healthy' when they contain the chemical pesticide glyphosate. They claim that by making these representations, General Mills violates the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer. It is routinely used to increase yields of several types of crops – including oats, a significant ingredient in granola.

A similar class action lawsuit filed in October by consumers (James Carroll Scott, et al. v. General Mills Inc.) cites a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that found glyphosate is a 'probable human carcinogen.' Plaintiffs in that class action lawsuit claim there is 'compelling scientific evidence' that shows 'even at low dosage levels, [glyphosate] compounds can cause liver and kidney damage.'

After plaintiffs in the Organic Consumers Association, et al. v. General Mills filed their Nature Valley class action lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court in September 2016, General Mills removed the action to federal court.

In support of removal, the company argued that even though the plaintiffs’ claims fall under D.C. law, the case will depend on a question of federal law – specifically, whether the Nature Valley products are misbranded under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its associated regulations.