Three non-profits have sued sandwich chain Pret A Manger for labeling certain breads and baked goods as "natural" when they tested positively for glyphosate, Beyond Pesticides announced in a press release Wednesday.
"Consumers expect Pret's food to be free of synthetic pesticides, including glyphosate. Glyphosate, patented as a chelator and an antibiotic, is linked to adverse health effects including cancer, infertility and non-alcoholic fatty liver and kidney diseases. Glyphosate shouldn't be present in the food system at all, but a company that willfully misrepresents its products needs to be held accountable," GMO Free Executive Director Diana Reeves said in the press release announcing the suit.
The suit comes as glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's widely-used Roundup weedkiller, has come under increased scrutiny after a California jury ruled in favor of a former groundskeeper who claimed that constant use of Roundup caused his cancer.
Two of the groups involved in this suit, Beyond Pesticides and OCA, settled a similar suit against General Mills in August when the company agreed to stop calling the oats in its Nature Valley granola bars "100% natural" when they also tested positive for glyphosate, Reuters reported.
The Pret suit asks the company to either accurately label the presence of glyphosate in its products or work to make them actually glyphosate-free.
"Consumers want truthful information on product ingredients, with labeling and advertising that is transparent about production practices and residues of toxic materials. Given the widespread use of pesticide-intensive practices, this lawsuit establishes the responsibility of purveyors of food products to know the origins of their product ingredients before making a 'natural' claim," Beyond Pesticides Executive Director Jay Feldman said in the press release.
Enough Roundup has been sprayed to cover every acre of cultivable land with half a pound of the weedkiller, The Guardian reported.
Kim Richman, a partner in the law firm behind the suit, said these suits were an attempt to make restaurants and companies work harder to reduce and control the use of glyphosate.
"While glyphosate is indeed ubiquitous, it doesn't need to be—and the campaign to put food producers and restaurants on notice about the issue is an important step in getting them to take glyphosate reduction seriously," Richman told The Guardian.
Richman's firm has filed another, similar lawsuit against Pret on behalf of Samara Daly and Linda Virtue in New York's Eastern District.
Pret was censured in April by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for claiming its sandwiches where natural when they contained three common food additives, the lawsuit said.
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