Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Phthalates in Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese Products

General Mills faces a class action lawsuit over Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese and similar products, which alleges the company failed to disclose the presence of dangerous phthalates; chemicals which may increase the risk of a myriad of adverse health effects, including cancer and neurodevelopmental issues.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Shelby Franklin in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on April 1, seeking class action status to pursue damages on behalf of consumers nationwide who purchased various versions of the pasta and cheese products.

According to allegations raised in the lawsuit, General Mills deceptively marketed more than 20 brands of Annie’s products as healthy, while failing to warn consumers the products contain harmful and dangerous chemicals which may cause life-long health consequences.

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Franklin, of New York, claims General Mills represents the Annie’s macaroni and cheese products as organic and specifically states on the packaging the products do not contain artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or preservatives.

The lawsuit also alleges General Mills used  deceptive phrasing like “Made with Goodness!” and portrayed a “bunny of approval” in an effort to appeal to children, while selling products that contain phthalates linked to cancer, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and neurodevelopmental issues.

Franklin further claims General Mills is aware of its own deceptive marketing practices and has openly admitted its macaroni and cheese products contain harmful phthalates, yet buries the acknowledgement in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of its website, leaving many consumers in the dark and unaware of the chemicals in the food they are purchasing.

The allegations raised against General Mills include violations of New York consumer protection and false advertising laws, breach of express warranty, Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, fraudulent concealment and unjust enrichment.

Phthalates include a group of chemicals used to help make plastic flexible or more durable. They are commonly used as part of the packaging, preparation, storage and processing of food products, but are also found in a wide range of other items, including toys, cosmetics, detergents, PVC tubing, medical devices, and pill coatings.

The chemicals are known to disrupt hormones and affect human health. Phthalates have been linked to reproductive problems, increasing a woman’s chance of fibroids and endometriosis and miscarriage. Studies have also linked the chemicals to lower IQ in children if exposed during pregnancy, as well as reduced male fertility.

Despite a U.S. ban on phthalates being used in children’s products, a 2017 study published by the Coalition for Safer Processing & Packaging detected phthalates in almost every kind of powdered, processed and natural cheese product the researchers tested.

Among 10 powdered macaroni and cheese products tested, the average levels of phthalates were near 1,000 mg/kg. The highest levels tested at more than 2,500 mg/kg.  All 10 powdered cheese varieties, common in macaroni and cheese foods, had high levels of phthalates, even in products labeled organic.

2 Comments

  • LesiaMay 3, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    My kiddos so much like it

  • KaelaApril 29, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Wow so disappointed as a consumer, I spend more money on a product and did not receive what I was supposed to.

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