For decades, ConAgra Foods’ Wesson cooking oils have been trading on claims of being “pure” and “all-natural,” and having a certain amount of “Wessonality.” While no one is disputing the Wessonality claims of Wesson cooking oils, plenty of consumers are taking issue with those claims about being pure and all-natural. ConAgra Foods is now facing two lawsuits, filed in both Los Angeles and Brooklyn, taking the company to task for using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to produce their line of Wesson cooking oil products, specifically Wesson corn oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, and Best Blend.
According to Food Navigator USA, the terms of the class action lawsuit state that ConAgra’s frequent marketing of Wesson cooking oils as pure and 100 percent all-natural are misleading due to their use of GMOs. Though Wesson cooking oils don’t specifically mention genetically modified food on their labels, a statement on biotechnology is buried within media relations section of the ConAgra corporate website, which reads: “ConAgra Foods only purchases and uses ingredients that comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for food safety and nutrition. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA have concluded that biotech foods that are approved for human consumption are as safe and nutritious as other foods that are developed through more conventional methods.”
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The plaintiffs in the lawsuit assert that such a statement implies the use of “biotech,” or genetically modified food. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines GMOs as “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally” – in short, not quite 100 percent all-natural.
The plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against ConAgra Foods are seeking millions of dollars in refunds for customers who were deceived by Wesson cooking oil’s “all-natural” claims. In addition, the lawsuits seek to prevent ConAgra Foods from labeling and marketing its Wesson cooking oil line as pure and all-natural in the future.