Represented by the same attorneys, consumers have filed lawsuits alleging that two beverage companies misrepresent the amount of fruit in their fruit-flavored beverages.

Campbell Soup Co. “sells artificially-flavored sugar-water labeled as if it were fruit juice,” the plaintiff in one lawsuit alleges. Sims v. Campbell Soup Co., No. 18-0668 (C.D. Cal., filed April 2, 2018). The complaint asserts that V8 labels “convey to California consumers that they are purchasing a healthful, natural juice product made solely from fresh fruits and vegetables,” but the beverages “consist of 95% water and high fructose corn syrup, topped up with 3% reconstituted carrot juice and 2% or less of the juice of all the fruits and berries for which the Products are named.” For example, the plaintiff argues, “Berry Blend” contains “less than 1/2 of 1%” of juice from each of the “luscious ripe berries displayed on the label.” The plaintiff also alleges that Campbell fails to disclose the presence of artificial flavoring d-l malic acid on the front of the product’s bottle in violation of California’s health and safety code; in addition, “the labels incorrectly identify the artificial flavoring ingredient only as a general ‘malic acid’ instead of using the specific, non-generic name of the ingredient, d-l malic acid,” which misleads consumers into assuming that the malic acid in the product is the type that can occur naturally in some fruits and vegetables, according to the complaint.

Two consumers allege that Sunny Delight Beverages Co. names its products after fruits that the products do not contain. Hunt v. Sunny Delight Beverages Co., No. 18-0557 (C.D. Cal., filed April 2, 2018). For example, the “‘Cherry Limeade’ Product contains no cherries or cherry juice,” the “‘Strawberry Guava’ Product contains no strawberries or strawberry juice—or guavas or guava juice, for that matter,” and the “‘Orange Passionfruit’ Product contains neither passionfruit nor passionfruit juice.” The complaint asserts that Sunny Delight is required to disclose the presence of artificial flavoring on the front label, and because the products fail to do so, they are allegedly misbranded. As in Sims, the plaintiffs also argue that listing “malic acid” on the label violates state and federal law for failing to include the specific substance name.

In both lawsuits, the plaintiffs allege violations of California’s consumer-protection statutes and seek damages and attorney’s fees as well as injunctions to prohibit the allegedly deceptive practices and to compel corrective advertising.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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