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Class Claims Cereal Giants Push Fake Fiber

CHICAGO (CN) - General Mills and Kellogg mislead consumers about the health benefits of their fiber snacks, and falsely claim the fiber in them is natural, according to a federal class action.

GM's "Fiber One chewy bars" and nonfat yogurt, and as Kellogg's "Fiber Plus Antioxidant chewy bars" contain the non-natural fiber inulin, which does not have the benefits of natural fiber, and can even be harmful, the class claims.

Natural can promote regularity, curb hunger, reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar, all of which are beneficial, the class says.

But it claims GM and Kellogg advertise their non-natural fiber products as equivalent to sources of natural fiber, such as "beans and other legumes, fruits and oat products," though the cereal giants know that is not the truth.

The class claims that the leading fiber in the chewy bars and yogurt is chicory root extract, a form of inulin.

The Web MD Web site "warns that using too much inulin causes stomach problems and that women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not use inulin," according to the complaint, but General Mills and Kellogg do not warning customers of that.

Named plaintiff Carolyn Turek says both companies claim that their chewy bars contain 35 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber, but fail to mention that it is not the type of fiber that is known to have health benefits. She says she bought the chewy bars and "Fiber One NonFat Yogurt," which GM deceptively claims to have 5 grams of fiber per serving.

Turek says that General Mills and Kellogg lie to consumers for financial gain. General Mills' annual report announced 2009 sales for its snack division were over $1.2 billion, a 4 percent increase due to its "grain snacks," which include its "FiberOne" chewy bars. "Sales of the foregoing chewy bars represent significant revenues for ... Kellogg" as well, Turek says.

She seeks class damages and restitution for consumer fraud and deceptive business practices. She also wants the companies prohibited from destroying information they have used to advertise the products.

Lead counsel is Ronald Teeple with Teeple Law.

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