A mother from Lake Worth, Florida, filed a lawsuit last month against Pepperidge Farms over the contents of their Cheddar Goldfish snacks.
The mother, Lisa Leo, accused the food manufacturing company of mislabeling its popular Goldfish cracker products as being "natural," which she says is false as they contain genetically modified soybeans.
Her lawsuit, filed June 11 in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, seeks class-action status, new labels and at least $5 million in damages to reimburse Florida consumers who purchased the snack since June 2009, claiming the product violates Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
"Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies," said Joshua Eggnatz, Leo's Weston-based attorney. "You may not think GMOs are bad for you, but others may, and the consumer has a right to know and to choose."
Genetically modified organisms have proliferated in America's foods in recent decades, being often found in processed foods like crackers and cereals.
The FDA currently does not have an official definition of "natural" for food labels, but its website states that the agency "has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances."
Though Leo's complaint only targets one product, the implications of this lawsuit could be far-reaching. The outcome could help to define the usage of the term "natural" for food labeling. Recent studies have suggested that modified foods can create new unintended toxins and increase the risk of allergies.
Amid the uproar is a national outcry for mandatory food labels in the United States. Congress is considering a bill that would direct the Food and Drug Administration to "clearly label" genetically modified foods. Florida and 14 other states are seeking to require the labels at the state level.