LOS ANGELES (CN) – Snapple Beverage Corp. defrauds the public by selling Snapple Lemonade, marked as “all natural” and “made from the best stuff on Earth,” though it contains less than 1 percent lemon juice, a class action claims in Superior Court.
This is the latest in a series of cases accusing major retailers of falsely advertising the nutritional value of their food. The 9th Circuit recently reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a similar claim, involving baby food. And a recent class action in Atlantic County Court, N.J., makes similar claims about Arizona Beverage Co.’s advertising of its “100% natural” Arizona Iced Tea drinks.
In the Los Angeles case, the class claims Snapple uses virtually no lemon in its “all natural” lemonade, but substitutes citric acid and corn syrup to make “all of their Fake Lemonade.”
The label is adorned with pictures of lemons and the cited phrases, and the phrase “juice drink with natural flavors. … An inconspicuous disclaimer about the ‘Nutrition Facts’ panel discloses and admits that the product actually contains ‘less than 1% juice.'” But, the complaint states, “Adding ‘less than one percent’ juice does not make this product ‘lemonade,’ a ‘juice drink,’ or an ‘all natural’ product. Indeed, there is no readily identifiable reason for adding ‘less than 1% juice’ except possibly to make a misleading claim that the Product is a juice drink.”
Represented by Ray Gallo, the class demands an injunction and punitive damages for fraud, unfair competition and violations of consumer law.
Here is Courthouse News’ April 22 story on the 9th Circuit’s decision.
Mothers May Sue Gerber Over Sugary Fruit Snacks
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit allowed two mothers to pursue their class action accusing Gerber Products Co. of deceptively dressing up sugar-loaded gummy treats as healthy snacks for toddlers.
The mothers claimed Gerber falsely touts its Gerber Fruit Juice Snacks as “nutritious” and “made with real fruit juice,” and displays images of oranges, peaches, strawberries and cherries on the packaging. But a quick look at the label reveals the main ingredients are corn syrup and sugar, and the only fruit juice is concentrated white grape juice.
They also took issue with Gerber calling the saccharine product a “snack,” saying “candy,” “sweet” or “treat” was more appropriate. Gerber later changed the name to Fruit Juice Treats, but denied that the lawsuit had anything to do with the change.
A federal judge dismissed the case last year, ruling that a reasonable consumer could see through the packaging “puffery” by simply reading the ingredients.
But the appellate court found that on-the-go parents should not have to scour ingredient lists for labeling discrepancies.
“We do not … think that a busy parent walking through the aisles of a grocery store should be expected to verify that the representations on the front of the box are confirmed in the ingredient list,” Judge Pregerson wrote.
“We do not think that the FDA requires an ingredient list so that manufacturers can mislead consumers and then rely on the ingredient list to correct those misinterpretations and provide a shield for liability for the deception.”