Challenging Hormel’s Deceptive Advertising Practices: Natural Choice®
Animal Legal Defense Fund v Hormel Foods Corporation
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Hormel Foods Corporation alleging the company is misleading consumers through the advertising of its Natural Choice® brand of lunch meats and bacon.
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In 2016, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Hormel Foods alleging the company is misleading consumers through the advertising of its Natural Choice® brand of lunch meats and bacon. The lawsuit was filed with Public Justice and the Richman Law Group in the District of Columbia Superior Court, under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
Contrary to Hormel’s branding campaign, the lawsuit alleges, meats the company advertises as “natural,” “honest,” “wholesome,” and “clean,” actually come from animals raised in the worst factory farms that employ additives, hormones and antibiotics, and contain nitrates and preservatives.
The lawsuit followed an Animal Legal Defense Fund undercover investigation revealing significant animal neglect and violations of laws protecting both consumers and animals at a Nebraska-based farm owned by The Maschhoffs, LLC, a major Illinois-based pig producer and one of Hormel Foods’ largest suppliers.
Under the slogan “Make the Natural Choice®” Hormel has run a wide-ranging advertising campaign that takes advantage of consumers’ beliefs that “natural” meat comes from animals raised in more natural, sustainable ways.
A 2015 Consumer Reports survey found that half of consumers surveyed believed the “natural” designation means animals were raised outdoors; even greater percentages believed it meant animals were not given antibiotics and other drugs. Hormel’s Natural Choice® products, in contrast, are not from more humane or more natural farms, but come from the same industrialized, pharmaceutical-using factory farms as any of Hormel’s other products.
The court denied Hormel’s motion to dismiss the suit in 2017.
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