business news in context, analysis with attitude

USA Today reports on how some consumers are upset with Kellogg’s Kashi cereal brand - and are expressing their discontent via social media - after a Rhode Island retailer called The Green Grocer stopped selling the brand and posted a note on the shelf saying that “he wouldn't sell the cereal because he found out the brand used genetically engineered, non-organic ingredients,” something that he felt the word “natural” on the box misrepresented.

According to the story, “Photos of the note began popping up on Facebook pages and food blogs as some consumers claimed Kellogg's was misrepresenting its cereal ... some consumers say they felt duped into believing the cereal was organic and free from genetically modified ingredients because of Kellogg's use of the word on packaging and its website. They've taken to the digital streets with their anger, posting on Kashi's own Facebook page, as well as the pages of several organic cereal makers and organic stores. News media have begun picking up the story.”

Kashi has done nothing wrong, says David Desouza, Kashi general manager, tells the paper that the company has done nothing wrong: “The FDA has chosen not to regulate the term ‘natural,’” he says. “The company defines natural as ‘food that's minimally processed, made with no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners’.”
KC's View:
In 2012, I think we have to stop thinking in terms of living up to the letter of regulations. Just doing nothing legally wrong may not be good enough anymore ... if an action or inaction is perceived as being less than transparent, or just the slightest bit dishonest or exploitive, then people are going to react via mechanism that are going to put companies on the defensive.