A lawsuit filed last month in California accused General Mills of deceptive marketing of cereals with high sugar levels.
The complaint, which seeks class-action status, argued that General Mills promoted its cereals' health benefits — from whole grains to protein content to heart-healthy ingredients — despite sugar levels that effectively negate those attributes.
"Many of General Mills’ cereals and bars ... contain high amounts of sugar, such that their regular consumption is likely to contribute to excess added sugar consumption and, thereby, increased risk for and contraction of chronic disease," attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote, according to a copy of the complaint posted by The Wall Street Journal.
The filing seeks to ban the Minnesota-based food giant from "continuing to engage in its practice of using deceptive health and wellness claims to market high-sugar foods."
General Mills responded that the lawsuit was "without merit" and touted the nutritional value of its products.
"Cereal has long been established as a nutritious and wholesome way to start the day, and General Mills continues to stand behind the quality of these products and the accuracy of the products’ labels," a spokesman told the Journal.
General Mills and other packaged food companies have been affected by consumers' increasing preference for foods perceived to be healthier.
The complaint also comes amid a wave of lawsuits over food marketing claims in recent years. The California lawsuit was filed just days after three advocacy groups sued General Mills over claims that its Nature Valley granola bars were "100% natural."