Don’t take product advertisements at face value


I often wonder at the nonsensicality of the numerous lawsuits that get approved and passed, especially in the food service world. If you remember the infamous case of the woman who sued McDonald’s for not warning her that the coffee was hot and won a hefty settlement, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

McDonald’s did not tell their customers that the coffee was hot. Oh, the humanity.

When logical deductions such as the temperature of coffee are still utilized as a basis for a lawsuit, it does make me wonder at our judicial system. If we’re going nowhere in life, we might as well find something we can complain about and hopefully get some money out of it. That is, of course, the ultimate dream.

For this reason, the food service world is a dangerous one, as the main consumers are mothers who are the target market for grocery store suppliers. They are the ones squabbling over protecting their children from fatty foods and processed items as they fill their carts up with Dunkaroos and Mr. Christie cookies. However, when lawsuits arise from situations like, “But you said in your commercial that this product was part of a healthy breakfast!” You have to roll your eyes. A chocolate spread that is healthy? If you really considered that a chocolate spread would be healthy, you have to be living under a rock.

This brings me to the fascinating class-action lawsuit that was recently instigated against Nutella, which just happens to be one of my guilty pleasures, by a California mother claiming to be the victim of false advertising. This perception arose after viewing Nutella’s commercials, where heinous shots of wholesome families and happy, healthy children eating Nutella before going to school misled this innocent woman into thinking Nutella was comparable to a nutritious apple. Athena Hohenberg of San Diego claimed that she was “shocked to learn that Nutella was in fact, not ‘healthy, nutritious’ food, but instead was the next best thing to a candy bar.”

Nutella is a chocolate spread. It contains artificial flavours and sugars. It isn’t the healthiest option on the shelf. Very similar products in sugar and fat content are other children’s favourites such as Froot Loops, Cocoa Puffs, pudding cups and fruit roll-ups. Try to get your jaw up from the ground; you had to see this coming.

Slogans such as “Part of a healthy breakfast” are meant to state that Nutella is part of a healthy breakfast, but not something you would pair up with waffles and buttered English muffins. Slogans are cute, catchy and meant to be taken with a grain of salt, not on a complete literal basis. Hell, Guinness had a slogan a couple of years ago, saying “Guinness is good for you.” Would Hohenberg sue Guinness next?

Now the parent of a four-year-old is seeking damages from Ferrero USA Inc., the stateside maker of the Italian chocolate hazelnut spread. If this class action suit is filed, Hohenberg asks that any monetary judgment against the company be divided among all individuals who have purchased Nutella after 2000.

This is the point where I would actually believe it if some crazy person in America shot a lawsuit out once they found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. Some people have way too much time on their hands.

Another interesting case of false advertising is Taco Bell and I’m pretty sure you’ve all heard of this one. An Alabama law firm, who filed a class-action lawsuit instigated by California woman Amanda Obney, charges that Taco Bell used false advertising when they claim that their food contains 100 per cent “seasoned ground beef.” The law firm claims that the taco meat filling used by Taco Bell only contains 35 per cent beef, the rest filled with binders, extenders, preservatives, additives and other agents. Taco Bell has vehemently fought back as the president and chief concept officer Greg Creed said that the company uses 100 per cent USDA-inspected beef and simmers it in a blend of seasonings.

Taco Bell has taken the bull by its horns and responded by littering their restaurants with signs that say, “Thank you for suing us” and features the list of the beef’s ingredients. It is also offering millions of free tacos to people who like Taco Bell’s Facebook page.

My point is pretty clear. If you choose to eat at Taco Bell or purchase a jar of Nutella, take the time to consider what exactly you’re eating versus what types of commercials they air or the type of slogans these brands utilize. A brand identity does not necessarily coincide with true facts about the product, as we can see from slogans such as “Redbull Gives You Wings!” And if you are a parent purchasing a product for a child, take the time to read the nutritional label rather than blaming the company for filming wholesome families eating Nutella at breakfast. It will save you the money on legal fees.

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