Alexia Food Sued Over Chemical Additive in “All-Natural” Products

By on March 2, 2012

Alexia Food Inc., the New York-based subsidiary of ConAgra Foods, deceived consumers by marketing products containing a chemical additive as “all-natural,” a class action filed in New York federal court alleges.

The lawsuit claims Alexia Food used the term “all-natural” on packaging and advertisements for its frozen food products when these items actually included a synthetic chemical preservative called disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate.  The odorless white powder chemical is used to color products or to prevent discoloration, but it is also used to remove hair and feathers in the slaughter of hogs and poultry and as a dispersant for oil production, according to the complaint.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) both prohibit foods with artificial chemicals from meeting the criteria of being a “natural” product, the complaint said. The FDA states the use of the term “natural” implies “nothing artificial or synthetic has been included” in the food, and the FSIS classifies a natural product only when it “does not contain any artificial or synthetic ingredient,” according to the lawsuit.

“Since this is not an ingredient that consumers are generally familiar with, we had already begun to remove it from applicable Alexia products to eliminate any potential consumer confusion over the ingredient or its purpose,” ConAgra spokeswoman Becky Niiya said in a statement. “The transition will be complete by May 2012.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all persons within the United States who purchased an Alexia Food product marketed, advertised and promoted as “all-natural” and containing disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate.

This action was not filed by Milberg.

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