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Organic Consumers Association Sues Kraft for Falsely Marketing Products Made With Artificial Growth Hormone as ‘Natural’

Consumer advocacy group alleges some Kraft cheese products labeled ‘natural’ contain milk from cows treated with a genetically engineered artificial growth hormone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 17, 2020

Contact:

Katherine Paul, katherine@organicconsumers.org, 207-653-3090

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today sued The Kraft Heinz Company (“Kraft”) for misleading consumers by marketing and advertising cheese products containing milk from cows administered recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) — also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) — as “natural.”

The action was filed on behalf of OCA by Richman Law & Policy in D.C. Superior Court under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

“The Organic Consumers Association has for years educated consumers about the use of rbGH, an artificial, genetically engineered growth hormone used in milk production, and its harmful impact on human health and the health of dairy cows,” said OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins. 

“By labeling cheese products made with this artificial hormone as ‘natural,’ Kraft deceives the majority of health-conscious consumers who care about animal welfare,” Cummins said. “Consumers who fall into this category make the reasonable assumption that ‘natural’ labels on dairy products mean no genetically engineered artificial growth hormones were administered to the cows.”

The lawsuit alleges that on January 9, 2019, Kraft announced that “KRAFT Natural Cheese is Now Made from Milk without the Artificial Hormone rbST,” but that this statement did not apply to all Kraft Natural Cheese products. While many of Kraft’s “natural” cheese products are now made from milk produced without rbGH, some, including varieties containing parmesan, asiago and Romano, are still made with milk from cows administered rbGH.

The suit also alleges that Kraft knows consumers intentionally seek out dairy products made from cows raised without the use of rbST/rbGH, and that consumers will pay more for such products.

A 2019 survey by the Corn Refiners Association found that more than half of consumers believe the claim “natural” for food means “no hormones and antibiotics.”

The use of rbGH also contributes to increased use of antibiotics in dairy cows, which in turn contributes to antibiotic resistance. 

Read the complaint.

Organic Consumers Association is a 501(c)(3) consumer education and grassroots lobbying organization advocating on behalf of millions of consumers for safe, healthful food and a clean environment.