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A consumer has alleged that Apple & Eve markets its Switch Sparkling Juices as containing no added sugar or preservatives despite containing citric and ascorbic acids and having a "high calorie count when compared to competitors' products that do not have the 'No Sugar Added' claim." Reaves v. Apple & Eve LLC, No. 18-5728 (E.D.N.Y., filed October 12, 2018). The complaint asserts that consumers believe the juices to be "a low-calorie product" because of the "no sugar added" marketing message. "Consumers associate claims about the absence of sugar with lower calorie counts when there is no disclaimer stating otherwise," the complaint alleges. "The [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] has reached the same conclusion: 'Consumers may reasonably be expected to regard terms that represent that the food contains no sugars or sweeteners e.g., 'sugar free,' or 'no sugar,' as indicating a product which is low in calories or significantly reduced in…

Two plaintiffs have filed a putative class action alleging Post Consumer Brands sweetens its Honey Bunches of Oats cereals with "sugar, corn syrup, and other processed substances, and [they] contain only miniscule amounts of honey." Lima v. Post Consumer Brands LLC, No. 18-12100 (D. Mass., filed October 5, 2018). The complaint lists the alleged risks of consuming sugar to argue that Post intentionally misleads consumers into believing that Honey Bunches of Oats is healthful by implying that it is sweetened only or primarily by honey. "A product branded 'Honey Bunches of Oats' that pictorially conveys cereal being covered with honey and a bee in flight hardly means to a reasonable consumer that the product is mostly sweetened with sugar or other processed substances or, moreover, that it contains only a miniscule amount of honey," the complaint asserts. The plaintiff alleges violations of consumer-protection statutes in 35 states and seeks damages…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Stremick's Heritage Foods misrepresents its  Kern's juice as a "healthful, natural juice product made solely from fresh fruits" despite being "almost entirely sugar-water, with a small amount of fruit juice added for color and texture." Levin v. Stremick's Heritage Foods, No. 18-1748 (C.D. Cal., filed September 26, 2018). The complaint alleges that the juices "consist of 70% water and high fructose corn syrup, topped with 30% or less of the juice of the fruit for which the Products are named." The complaint also alleges that "pictorial representations" of "life-like" fruits on the packaging mislead consumers about the beverages' juice content. The plaintiff further argues that the products contain "massive amounts of refined sugar. The 'Apricot Nectar' Product, for example, contains 47 grams of sugar per serving—more than Grape Kool-Aid." According to the complaint, the juices are not healthful because excess…

Two California courts have dismissed lawsuits brought by a competitor alleging kombucha companies misrepresented the amount of sugar and alcohol in their products. Tortilla Factory LLC v. Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha LLC, No. 18-2984 (C.D. Cal., entered September 11, 2018); Tortilla Factory LLC v. Better Booch LLC, No. 18-2980 (C.D. Cal., entered September 13, 2018). In April 2018, Tortilla Factory filed several lawsuits alleging that a number of its competitors, including Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha and Better Booch, misrepresent the alcohol and sugar content in their beverages in violation of federal law. The court in Rowdy Mermaid found that Tortilla Factory did not suffer an injury from Rowdy Mermaid's conduct; while the plaintiff argued that the companies are "vying for the same dollars from the same consumers," it failed to argue that "the two companies' products are sold in the same stores, through the same channels, or even in the same geographic…

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement providing an update on how mandated added-sugar labeling will affect honey and maple syrup. "We recognized that this new labeling information on 'packaged as such' products may inadvertently lead consumers to think their pure products, such as a jar of honey or maple syrup, may actually contain added table sugar or corn syrup because there are 'added sugars' listed on the label," Gottlieb notes. FDA previously proposed the use of an additional disclosure for honey and maple syrup products, but "the more than 3,000 comments we received on the draft guidance indicate that there are further opportunities to update our proposed approach," according to the press release. Gottlieb indicated that final guidance will be released in 2019. "This guidance will provide a path forward for pure, single-ingredient 'packaged as such' products that does not involve the standard 'added…

Jamba Inc. and Jamba Juice Co. face a putative class action alleging the company's advertising deceives and misleads consumers about the nutritional value and ingredients of its smoothie beverages. Turner v. Jamba, Inc., No. 18-5168 (N.D. Cal., filed August 23, 2018). The plaintiffs allege that Jamba's smoothies contain more sugars than typical sodas or soft drinks rather than being “simple and nutritionally on par with eating whole fruits and vegetables." In addition, the complaint asserts that the smoothies contain concentrated fruit juice blends—predominantly apple, pear and grape—rather than “whole fruits and veggies.” The plaintiffs also allege that the sherbets and frozen yogurts used in the smoothie blends contain "numerous additives," including sugar, corn syrup, caramel coloring, carrageenan, citric acid, guar gum, lactic acid, locust bean gum and pectin. Claiming violations of California’s and New York’s consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiffs seek class certification, declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, damages and attorney’s fees.

A California federal court has granted certification to buyers of Kellogg Co.’s Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini-Wheats and Smart Start who allege they were misled about the health benefits of the products because they contain added sugar. Hadley v. Kellogg Sales Co., No. 16-4955 (N.D. Cal., San Jose Div., entered August 17, 2018). The complaint also contained an allegation about Nutri-Grain bars, but the court declined to certify that class. Kellogg argued that the plaintiffs did not meet the predominance standards for certification, asserting that most consumers did not see the challenged phrases “lightly sweetened” and “wholesome goodness” on the product packaging and further that “the health impact of consuming added sugar—and thus the alleged falsity of the challenged statements—differs for each consumer.” The court agreed as to the “wholesome goodness” phrase on Nutri-Grain bars packaging but disagreed that most consumers would not have seen “lightly sweetened” phrasing based on its…

A federal court in Texas has granted partial summary judgment to WFM Private Label L.P., a subsidiary of Whole Foods Market Inc., in a contract dispute related to 365 Everyday Value Greek yogurt's sugar content. WFM Private Label, L.P., v. 1048547 Ontario Inc., No. 14-1013 (W.D. Tex., entered June 18, 2018). Whole Foods hired Skotidakis Goat Farm (SGF) to supply Greek yogurt products for the 365 Everyday Value brand, and SGF provided the company with nutritional information. SGF later received additional lab results indicating a higher sugar content than previous testing indicated, but it did not notify Whole Foods of the new results until a few days before Consumer Reports published an article alleging that the company's plain yogurt contained five times the sugar content listed on the product labeling. Eleven putative class actions were filed against Whole Foods; according to the vendor agreement, SGF had an obligation to indemnify Whole Foods in the lawsuits.…

Plaintiffs in California and New York have filed a putative class action alleging Clif Bar & Co. “omits, intentionally distracts from, and otherwise downplays" the "high added sugar content” of Clif Classic and Clif Kid bars. Milan v. Clif Bar & Co., No. 18-2354 (N.D. Cal., filed April 19, 2018). The complaint asserts that the bars contain high amounts of added sugar—“a chronic liver toxin”—and alleges that excess sugar consumption can lead to several conditions, including metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high triglycerides and hypertension. The plaintiffs allege that Clif “employs a strategic marketing campaign intended to appeal to customers interested in healthful foods in order to increase sales and profits, despite that the high-sugar bars are detrimental to health.” By emphasizing “nutritious” and “organic” ingredients as well as the lack of high-fructose corn syrup and genetically modified organisms, the company allegedly fails to disclose that Clif Classic and…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging Health-Ade LLC's kombucha contains four to five times the amount of sugar listed on its label. Gonzalez v. Health-Ade LLC, 28-1836 (N.D. Cal., filed March 23, 2018). The complaint alleges that the nutrition panels for nine of Health-Ade's products state they contain from two to four grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving, but the plaintiffs’ testing apparently indicates the beverages contain between 11 and 13 grams per serving. Claiming false and misleading advertising, unjust enrichment, breach of warranties and negligent misrepresentation, the plaintiffs seek certification of nationwide and California classes, injunctive relief, corrective advertising, damages and application of the common fund doctrine.

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