A class action lawsuit filed against the Kellogg Company alleges that Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers are nutritionally the same as the original version, which is "false and misleading."
"Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers are virtually indistinct nutritionally from Cheez-It Original crackers," reads the complaint, as reported by Munchies. "They contain only one gram of dietary fiber per serving. Neither Whole Grain variety increases whole grains beyond half, as recommend by the [2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans]."
The main ingredient of the whole grain crackers is enriched white flour, which is the same as the original version.
"Thus, Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers are not predominantly whole grain, despite the reasonable expectations that Kellogg has created by distinguishing Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers from other crackers in the 'Cheez-It' product line by denominating them 'WHOLE GRAIN,'" the complaint continued.
While no one expects any version of Cheez-It crackers to serve as diet food, a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional labels of both crackers does appear to prove a point. Although the whole grain crackers have slightly more fiber and sodium with less calcium than the original crackers, both labels are virtually identical.
"Consumers are seeking out whole grain foods, and expect that when they see the words 'whole grain' on the package that whole grain is the main ingredient," explained Maia Kats, litigation director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Kellogg's Whole Grain Cheez-Its have more white flour than whole grain. It’s effectively a junk food, and Kellogg is taking financial advantage of consumers who are trying to make better decisions for their health."
According to an FDA document from 2006, the organization has no enforceable rules regarding what can be considered a "whole grain" product. As Kellogg’s did not claim the crackers were 100 percent whole grain, it is unclear whether or not any regulations were broken.
“[The] FDA has not defined any claims concerning the grain content of foods," the document stated, according to Munchies. "However, the agency has established standards of identity for various types of cereal flours and related products… including a standard of identity for 'whole wheat flour' and 'whole durum flour.'"
Kris Charles, spokesperson for the Kellogg Company, said the lawsuit is “completely without merit” and their nutritional labels are “accurate and in full compliance with FDA regulations.”