Kellogg to settle immunity claim suit for $5 million

by Eric Schroeder
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BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — The Kellogg Co. has agreed to pay $5 million as part of a class action in the U.S. District Court Central District of California involving immunity claims on Rice Krispies cereal.

Kellogg originally agreed to remove the immunity claims from its Rice Krispies products in late 2009 after the Oregon Department of Justice challenged the claims. In June 2010, Kellogg settled with the Federal Trade Commission over the same claims, though it stood by them. Following the F.T.C. action, several class actions were raised, which now have been settled.

Under terms of the settlement, Kellogg has agreed to pay between $5 and $15 to consumers who submit valid claim forms to recover the full purchase price of the cereal they purchased, up to a total amount of $2.5 million. Additionally, Kellogg will distribute $2.5 million worth of Kellogg brand cereal and food products to charities.

The settlement also notes Kellogg must discontinue use of the challenged message regarding immunity benefits of the cereal unless it has “competent and reliable scientific evidence” that supports the claim.

The immunity claims in question appeared on boxes of Rice Krispies from June 1, 2009, through March 1, 2010, and included, but were not limited to, the following statements:

• “Now helps support your child’s immunity”
• “25% Daily Value of antioxidants & nutrients vitamins A, B, C & E”
• “With antioxidants and nutrients”
• “Helping to support your family’s immunity”
• “Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies has been improved to include antioxidants and nutrients that your family needs to help them stay healthy”
• “Excellent source of vitamins A, B, C, and E — antioxidants and nutrients that help support the body’s immune system”
• “Enjoy this wholesome breakfast and help keep your family healthy”
• “And now each and every box is fortified with vitamins and nutrients that work together to help support your child’s immunity.”

Reached by Milling & Baking News, Kris Charles, spokesperson for Kellogg, said the suit pertains to an on-pack claim that was removed voluntarily from the marketplace more than a year ago.

“Kellogg Co. has a long history of responsible marketing,” Ms. Charles said.

In addition to the Rice Krispies settlement, Kellogg last year agreed to a $10.5 million settlement in a class action claiming Kellogg falsely advertised its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereals as “clinically shown to improve children’s attentiveness by nearly 20%.” As part of that suit, class members received $2.75 million and $5.5 million was given to charities.

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