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What Does “Veggie” Mean on Food Labels?

It seems like almost every new product today is called “plant-based” this and “veggie” that. But what exactly does “veggie” on a label mean to shoppers? Like “all natural,” “veggie” is not a defined term in federal law.

But, according to the dictionary, a “veggie burger” is “a patty chiefly of vegetable-derived protein used as a meat substitute.”

Kellogg’s has been marketing a whole bunch of “veggie” products under the MorningStar Farms label for quite a while. This includes burgers, sausage patties, hot dogs, etc.

MorningStar hot dogs

A look at the ingredients statement, however, reveals little in the way of vegetables or vegetable protein.


MorningStar ingredients

So a California consumer just filed a lawsuit against Kellogg’s for misrepresentation. To be fair to Kellogg’s, most of their other MorningStar products contain greater amounts of soy (a vegetable), though not a majority of the product, such as in their Veggie Griller burgers:


MorningStar burgers ingredients

But is soy flour the main vegetable protein ingredient we expect to be in a veggie burger or other meat substitute? What does seeing “veggie” on a product label mean to you? Add your thoughts in the comments section.

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Purina Grain-Free Dog Foods Allegedly Contain Grains

Imagine deliberately seeking out a grain-free or limited-ingredient dog food because your dog has an allergy to wheat or soy, for example, only to learn that the product is not actually wheat-free or soy-free.

That’s what happened to a number of consumers who purchased Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula, Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Lamb & Oat Meal Formula, and Purina Beneful Grain Free with Farm-Raised Chicken accented with Blueberries, Pumpkin
and Spinach.

Purina Grain-Free

So they filed a lawsuit against Purina at the end of August. Each of the plaintiffs tells the story of having an allergic dog that improved when eating only whole foods. But that was an expensive proposition. So they switched to one of these grain-free products but discovered the allergic symptoms recurred. How could that be if the particular product did not contain the offending allergen?


According to the suit:

…independent testing of the Subject Foods confirms that these representations are false. Both Pro Plan formulas contain significant amounts of wheat, while the Beneful formula contains significant amounts of soy.

The complaint does not specify the exact amounts of the offending ingredients that were discovered, however. “Significant amounts” to the plaintiffs may be trace amounts to a judge.

As a result of their test finding, the plaintiffs alleged that Purina misrepresented the contents of these premium-priced products. As such, they say they overpaid for them or wouldn’t have purchased them in the first place.

Undeclared ingredients may be an industry-wide problem in the pet food business according to prior studies. Researchers in 2014, for example, found that 82% of products tested contained certain ingredients that were not listed on the label. That is a scary thought if you have to carefully watch what you feed your pet.

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SlimFast: Clinically Proven to Lose Weight and Keep It Off?

Pick up any SlimFast product and you’ll see a box with this claim:

SlimFast claim

SlimFast products


That tiny asterisk refers to a small disclosure that weight loss is clinically proven when using the product on the SlimFast diet plan.

SlimFast note

In commercials you will see the same claim — clinically proven — also being applied to their diet plan itself.

A competitor challenged those and other claims and brought their case to the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau. The NAD handed down a decision last week and on many key points ruled against SlimFast.

NAD said it was reasonable for consumers to believe that any of SlimFast’s products that displayed the “clinically proven” box had been tested by the company and shown to be effective at losing and keeping off weight.

Their decision said:

NAD noted that the advertiser provided no evidence that each SlimFast product has been individually evaluated. Further, the advertiser’s evidence was limited to studies and expert reports based on weight loss studies on discontinued SlimFast products.

NAD recommended that the company discontinue its unqualified claims of “clinically proven” and “Clinically Proven: Lose Weight & Keep It Off.”

Regarding the claim, “Clinically Proven to Lose Weight & Keep it Off When Used as Part of the SlimFast Plan,” NAD found “that the claim expressly and by implication conveys the message that the current products themselves have been clinically proven to allow consumers to lose weight and keep it off” when they had no such proof.

SlimFast vowed to appeal NAD’s decision because they feel they presented substantial scientific corroboration and testimony to support their claims.

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