The Most Scandalous Cases of False Food Advertising

Sad but true: Your favorite foods love lying to you.

  • Photo: Weddingbee, NY Post, TriplePundit
  • Product: Kashi All Natural Products

Year: 2011

Scandal: In the annals of “healthy” breakfast cereal, Kashi’s prices rank high, often pushing $7 for a box. But it’s "all natural, organic, healthy power-food," right? Maybe not.  Kashi has been the subject of several lawsuits over everything from mislabeling the amount of sugar in each box to printing words like “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial” on boxes when in reality, almost everything in the box (and in most cereals for that matter) is highly processed, industrial product. 

Outcome: Kashi was forced to settle a lawsuit and change its "All natural" labeling.
  • Product: Taco Bell

Year: 2011

Scandal: Remember in 2011 when Taco Bell’s beef was revealed to be a tawdry 35 percent beef? In an Alabama class-action lawsuit, attorney Dee Miles claimed the “meat” was actually 65 percent water, corn starch, and common (if harmless) additives like soy lecithin and maltodrextrin, giving new meaning to the term “Taco Hell.” 
Outcome:  Taco Bell defended itself releasing the "real ingredients" of its seasoned beef stating its composed of 88 percent beef and 12 percent "signature recipe."
  • Product: Double Stuf Oreos

Year: 2013

Scandal: We were hoodwinked by America's Favorite Cookie when it was discovered that the Double Stuf Oreo was only 1.86 times the size of the original.

Outcome: Oreo stands by its claims of being "Double Stuf", but the verdict is still out on this decadent debate.
  • Product: Nutella

Year: 2012

Scandal: Anyone who ever thought Nutella was good for you was obviously delusional, (it’s a rich, creamy, chocolate-nut spread, duh), but in 2012, “Nutty” parent company Ferrero USA dished out $3.5 million to angry consumers who’d been duped into including Nutella as part of their daily nutritional intake.

Outcome:  Ferrero agreed to change its marketing campaign and also display its sugar and fat content on the front of the jar.
  • Product: Subway $5 Footlong

Year: 2013

Scandal: In January, Subway got some serious flack over their famed “Foot-Longs'” inability to measure up after some Australian kid Facebooked a photo of a "Foot-Long" sub that was only 11 inches. Consumers responded with a shitstorm telling Subway that in effect, SIZE MATTERS.
Outcome: Subway responded to the mayhem with by stating that “’Footlong’ is merely a registered trademark and not a guarantee of each sandwich’s length,” but said they'd strive to ensure every Footlong meaures up.
  • Product: Skinny Girl Cocktails

Year: 2011

Scandal: Not only do Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel’s Skinny Girl Cocktails not keep you skinny, they were also billed as “All Natural, Preservative Free.” When the drink mixes were revealed to contain sodium benzoate, a preservative, backlash quickly followed, although Frankel sold the company in 2013 and a federal judge effectively quashed the class-action suit in January 2013. 

Outcome:  Skinny Girl didn't have to pay, but label copy was changed to say "Natural Flavors". Bethony's overall response to the scandal: "I haven’t lost even a wink of sleep.”
  • Product: Whole Foods Markets

Year: 2012

Scandal: The world officially stopped turning when the mother of natural and organic foods was sighted for selling unnatural, GMO packed foods.

Outcome: Whole Foods had to let shoppers into its dirty little secret and also had to  pull products that contained artificial ingredients and GMOs from food shelves.
  • Product: Dannon Activia Yogurts

Year: 2010

Scandal: Dannon/Activia yogurt paid for claims that Activia was “clinically proven to help regulate your digestive system in two weeks,” (remember the sunny Jamie Lee Curtis commercials singing, “Activiaaaaa!”).... Big promises for anyone with persistent anal retentive issues. 
Outcome: Dannon agreed to cut the deceptive scientific lingo from the ads, allowing viewers to focus on the lovely Jamie Lee Curtis and her irregular digestive tract, sans scientific jabber.
  • Product: Naked Juices

Year: 2013

Scandal: In July, Pepsi Co.’s Naked Juice was revealed to be less fresh and clean than it would have you believe. Among other not-so-natural ingredients, the “All Natural” juice contains formaldehyde derivative calcium pantothenate, which isn’t going to kill you, but it’s not something you want to get naked and roll around in, either. 

Outcome: As part of the settlement, Naked Juice removed the term "All Natural" and related statements from packaging.
  • Product: Frosted Mini Wheats

Year: 2013

Scandal: We'll admit it, Mini Wheats may be one of our favorite morning pick-me-ups, and kids dig it, but after the sugar rush wears off, the cereal offers few tangible cognitive benefits. Earlier this year, Kellogg's settled a class action lawsuit when lawyers proved the cereal does absolutely nothing for kids’ attentiveness, memory and other mental functions, contrary to advertising claims.

Outcome: Kellogg's changed its labeling and paid $4 million in damages to consumers.

Here at First We Feast, we love a good scandal, and in lieu of the recent Oreo outrage over the lack of double stuff in the brand’s beloved “Double-Stuf” cookies, we thought it apt to compile a list of the most egregious cases of false advertising food has ever seen. Don’t be fooled by what the big corporate food man tells you—do you still think all Subway Footlongs are 12 inches, Kashi is “All Natural”, and Whole Foods doesn’t sell genetically modified foods? Think again.

Click through the gallery to see the false food advertising scandals that rocked both the food world and consumers’ minds.


  • thesouthizback

    I still crack up when people get shocked about their favorite products and services. All it takes is an understanding of American Capitalism to not be surprised anymore. I could have told you most of what these businesses are selling (small or large) is utter BS.

  • harold333

    Years back I ordered a medium drink at a fast food place. After filling the cup the server couldn’t find a lid the right size for the cup. I asked if he had a lid for the large size and he did so he poured the med. drink into the large and much more expensive cup. The drink came up almost to the top of the larger size and we both stood there looking at it. Different shaped cups should be a warning.

  • DontPanic

    Regarding the “formaldehyde derivative” calcium pantothenate found in Naked juices… please dont contribute to the “I can’t pronounce this so it can’t be good” scaremongering and go with the more common name for pantothenate: vitamin B5.

  • shobhit pandey

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