"Companies consider the consumer responsible for checking out all the facts; for assuming the ads they're seeing are lies," he said. He pointed out that "natural" Nature Valley granola bars contain maltodextrin -- a chemical that's "fresh from the factory."
"The 'natural' claim is a good example of something that may or may not matter to a food scientist, but it does matter to the consumer," he said.
But Gardner said the comparison between "big food" and "big tobacco" is a little far-fetched.
"All tobacco companies are evil killers of human beings, but there are a whole lot of food companies that sell food that's good for you," he said. "And even that stuff that's bad for you isn't going to kill you if you consume it in moderation. ... That's not to say I don't welcome people who had the skills and inventiveness to bring tobacco to its knees."