Expensive box of cereal
General Mills, the gigantic food company, has figured how to shed the risk inherent in selling products that people put in their bodies. It will shift that risk to consumers.
The company recently declared that it no longer will be sued. Its new posture is that anyone who interacts with the company in just about any way, from downloading a cereal coupon to entering a sweepstakes to buying its product, waives his right to sue and must agree to arbitration.
Other companies use forced arbitration, but most often it is in connection with a contract, such as for a credit card or cellular phone service. That is dubious enough; it is quite a leap to suggest that merely buying a product on a store shelf constitutes a legal waiver.
Last year, The New York Times reported, General Mills settled a case for $8.5 million over nutrition labeling on a yogurt brand, and in 2012 it agreed to remove the word "strawberry" from strawberry fruit roll-ups, which did not include strawberries.
The arbitration move after a California judge declined in March to dismiss a case regarding labeling on Nature Valley granola bar packages.
No one likes to be sued. But for companies that market goods like food and make claims about their benefits, it's a matter of accountability.