Lawsuit argues that customers are being misled after tests found traces of glyphosate in bread products.
Pret a Manger sued in US for labelling products containing pesticides as 'natural'

Two lawsuits have been filed against the sandwich company Pret a Manger in the US, claiming it deceptively labelled and marketed breads as “natural” when they contained glyphosate.
The “false and misleading” practice suits come after it emerged that a teenager who was severely allergic to sesame died at London’s Heathrow airport in 2016, after eating an unlabelled Pret sandwich that contained the ingredient.
In the US case, lab tests allegedly found traces of glyphosate – a biocide in Monsanto’s widely used Roundup weedkiller – in Harvest oatmeal raisin cookies, egg salad and arugula sandwiches, and other products made with the chain’s nine-grain granary bread.
A court in San Francisco last month ordered Monsanto to pay a non-Hodgkins lymphoma sufferer $289m (£220m) in damages after a jury ruled that his cancer had been caused by exposure to Roundup.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a plaintiff in the latest case, cited surveys showing that consumers expected the word “natural” to mean pesticide-free products.
“Companies like Pret a Manger know this,” the OCA’s international director, Ronnie Cummins, told the Guardian. “By describing their products or brands as ‘natural’, they are knowingly deceiving consumers in order to sell more product, and charge higher prices. We believe consumers should know the truth about this advertising tactic, and about what is actually in the food they are buying.”
Pret a Manger declined to comment on the case.
The court action follows a legal victory by the OCA and others in August, which forced Nature Valley granola bars to remove a “100% natural” label after glyphosate residues were found in the product.
Suing a restaurant chain marks a tactical escalation in the battle against glyphosate, albeit one that has previously sparked U-turns by companies such as Ben & Jerry’s.
The Guardian understands that similar litigation is being prepared against other US restaurant chains.
Given that enough of the weedkiller has now been sprayed to cover almost every cultivable acre of the planet in half a pound of the substance, it also opens up a question of which products could legitimately claim to be free of residue traces.
Kim Richman, a partner in the Richman law firm prosecuting the suits, told the Guardian: “Our clients believe that companies will need to start using the phrase ‘natural’ more responsibly in the future, taking legitimate precautions to avoid contamination by glyphosate or other synthetic biocides.
“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.”
The latest actions were filed by Richman’s law firm on behalf of the OCA and GMO-Free USA, in the District of Columbia, and on behalf of Samara Daly and Linda Virtue, in the eastern district of New York. While this second action aims to “recover monetary damages”, it is not a personal injury suit.
Last year, Pret was censured by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for claiming that its products did not contain the sort of “obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives” used by its competitors.
The ASA ruled this misleading because the chain’s sandwich bread in fact contained three E numbers widely used in the food retail sector: E472e , E471 and E300.



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