Quaker settles trans fat labeling suit
by Eric Schroeder
|Quaker has agreed to remove trans fats from Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal products as part of a lawsuit settlement.
SAN FRANCISCO — The Quaker Oats Co., a division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, Inc., has agreed to remove trans fats from its Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal products as part of a lawsuit settlement dating back more than three years.
Under terms of the settlement filed June 12 and made final on July 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Quaker Oats said it will pay up to $760,000 in attorney fees and estimates it will spend about $1.4 million to reformulate the products.
Although Quaker continues to deny allegations that the products contain or contained false or misleading labeling, the company has agreed to remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal by the end of 2015. Quaker also has agreed not to re-introduce PHOs into those products for at least 10 years thereafter, and has agreed not to introduce PHOs into Quaker Chewy bars, or the Instant Quaker Oatmeal Products that do not currently contain PHOs, for a period of 10 years. Finally, Quaker has agreed to stop making the statement “contains a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat” on the labels of any of its products that contain 0.2 grams or more of artificial trans fat per serving by the end of this year.
In issuing his approval for the settlement, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said the court found no fraud or collusion.
“(The settlement) was reached as a result of extensive arms’-length negotiations, occurring over the course of several months, including in-person mediation sessions with a respected mediator …, warranting a presumption in favor of approval,” Mr. Seeborg said. “The complexity, expense and likely duration of the litigation favor settlement — which provides meaningful benefits on a much shorter time frame than otherwise possible — on behalf of the class.”
Approximately 50 different varieties of Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal and Chewy and Oatmeal to Go bars were named in the settlement.