Woman Sued Post Cereal Because Honey Bunches of Oats Not Really Sweetened With Honey
A class action lawsuit filed against Post argued the cereal maker intentionally misleads consumers into believing its popular Honey Bunches of Oats line is sweetened with honey. In reality the majority of its sweetness comes from sugar and other sources.
Introduced in 1989, Honey Bunches of Oats uses a honey dipper drenched in honey in its commercials and marketing materials. But as lead plaintiffs Anita S. Lima and Susan Wrublewski pointed out, the cereal gets most of its flavor from cane and beet sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, malted barley syrup, and molasses.
In most varieties those ingredients come before honey on the package's ingredients list.
Filed in October 2018, the suit claimed Honey Bunches of Oats' "branding and packaging... convey the clear message that honey is the primary sweetener or—at a minimum—that honey is a significant sweetener. Unfortunately for consumers, this is untrue as honey is not the primary or even a significant sweetener."
The women alleged Post breached express warranties, violated numerous state consumer protection laws, and unjustly enriched itself with the fraudulent advertising.
Created by a Post employee mixing several of Post's cereals together and having his daughter taste them, Honey Bunches of Oats comes in nearly a dozen varieties, including Honey Bunches of Oats with Banana Bunches and Almonds, Honey Bunches of Oats with Real Strawberries, Honey Bunches of Oats with Vanilla Bunches and various granola flavors.
The women's filing alleged the misleading branding is particularly damaging as consumers are increasingly looking for alternatives to sugar, which has been "expressly linked to various health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndromes, heart disease, and more."
"Honey is one alternative sweetener that is gaining popularity. The bee byproduct contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants that sugar lacks and has a lower glycemic index than sugar," their suit read. "This means that honey causes slower spikes in blood glucose than those caused by sugar intake. Although honey is still high in sugar content, consumers consider honey to be a more natural sweetener and better for their health than pure sugar."
Despite their allegations, on Tuesday a Massachusetts federal judge granted Post's request to dismiss the case. Judge Allison D. Burroughs ruling the cereal's label isn't deceptive because, while it's low on the list, honey is a flavor as well as a sweetener in Honey Bunches of Oats.
It's unclear if anyone's ever filed suit against Kellogg's because Froot Loops contains no actual fruit.