Pepsi pays a $9 million settlement, agrees to stop calling Naked Juice ‘natural’

30 Jul

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

 The Pepsi-owned Naked Juice brand will soon be getting a labeling makeover  following a lawsuit that challenged the processed food giant’s indiscriminate  and deceptive use of the word “natural.” According to new reports, PepsiCo has  not only agreed to pay out a $9 million settlement as part of the case, but has  also relented from labeling its juice products as “all natural,” pending further  clarification by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the  appropriate use of this widely-misunderstood term.
Back in 2011,  plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit against Pepsi for labeling Naked Juice  as being “all natural,” despite the fact that many of the products in this brand  category contain added synthetic vitamins and other questionable ingredients.  According to the Associated Press (AP), plaintiffs had accused Pepsi of  even adding a synthetic fiber material made by Big Ag corporation Archer  Daniels Midland (ADM) into some types of Naked Juice, an allegation that  Pepsi ultimately did not deny.
The case, known as Natalie Pappas v.  Naked Juice Co. of Glendora, took particular issue with added ingredients in  Naked Juice like zinc oxide, ascorbic acid, and calcium pantothenate, the latter  of which is made from formaldehyde, a carcinogenic compound. These and other  questionable ingredients, claimed Pappas and others, hardly represent “the  freshest, purest stuff in the world,” a marketing catchphrase widely used in  connection with Naked  Juice products.
Besides this, Pappas also accused Pepsi of  deceptively using genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in Naked Juice products,  despite the fact that they are all labeled as not containing GMOs. Pepsi reportedly denied this claim, insisting that no GMOs are used to produce Naked  Juice. The company soon plans to have a third-party certifying group like the  Non-GMO Project verify that Naked Juice products are GMO-free in order to  quell growing fears about hidden transgenic additives.
“Defendants knew  that their protein beverages contained GMOs, but intentionally duped consumers  into believing the drinks were GMO-free,” states the lawsuit. “Defendants  further misled consumers into believe that some of the beverages’ fiber content  is due to the ‘all natural,’ ‘100% juice,’  rather than the latest advances in synthetic fibers such as Fibersol-2 (a  proprietary synthetic digestion-resistant fiber produced by Archer Daniels  Midland and developed by a Japanese chemical company).”
You can read the  official lawsuit as filed in the United States District Court for the Central  District of California here:

More companies coming under scrutiny for deceptive use of ‘all natural’

The $9 million settlement has yet to be officially approved by a judge, and one  of the prosecuting firms involved has said it plans to challenge it, citing a  belief that the monetary relief will not reach “a broad enough audience,”  according to AP. Still, Pepsi’s capitulation signals a growing understanding  that terms like “natural”  and “pure” need better regulatory definitions, as they are confusing and largely  meaningless.
A number of other major food names including Kashi,  Frito-Lay, and AriZona Iced Tea have also been the subject of similar lawsuits  in recent years. Frito-Lay, for example, was sued by a New York man back in 2012  for labeling Tostitos and SunChips as containing “all-natural ingredients.” Both  products are loaded with GM oils, grains, and other additives, which are  anything but natural, and yet the company has continued to dupe consumers into  thinking that its products are nutritionally superior to others on the  market.
“Genetically modified organisms are created artificially in a  laboratory by swapping genetic material across species to exhibit traits not  naturally theirs,” stated the Frito-Lay complaint. “Since a reasonable consumer  assumes that seeds created in such a way are not ‘all natural,’ advertising  Tostitos and SunChips as natural is deceptive and likely to mislead a reasonable  consumer.”
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