A federal court in California has granted in part the summary judgment
motion filed by a coconut water company facing allegations that it overstates
the magnesium and sodium content of its “O.N.E.” product and falsely claims
that it is a good source of electrolytes. Vital v. One World Co., LLC, No.
12-00314 (C.D. Cal., order entered November 30, 2012).

The court dismissed all claims based on a study that allegedly found lower levels of magnesium and sodium than allowed by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations when a product is claimed to be a “good source” of such nutrients. According to the court, the plaintiffs failed to show that the study was conducted under FDA’s § 101.9(g) methodology and would thus impose more stringent requirements on the defendant than federal law.

The court allowed the plaintiffs to pursue claims that the product is falsely
marketed as a “good source of electrolytes,” because the product labels
themselves show that the coconut water is a good source of just one electrolyte
under FDA regulations. The court could not conclude that the practice
was not deceptive as a matter of law because “[t]he phrase ‘good source’ of
‘electrolytes’ implies that O.N.E. is a ‘good source’ of more than one electrolyte.
Therefore, the fact that the label makes a number of additional claims about
potassium is not sufficient. A reasonable consumer might still believe that
O.N.E. is a good source of at least one other electrolyte.”

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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.