The consumer demand for foods deemed “organic” or “all natural” continues to grow each year. In fact, the Organic Trade Association claims that “organic is the fastest growing sector of the U.S. food industry.” And while the USDA has clear-cut labeling regulations for foods marketed as “organic” the same cannot be said of those labeled “all natural.” As of yet, the FDA hasn’t even settled on a formal definition of the word “natural.”
If so, couldn’t food corporations mislead consumers into believing their products were much healthier than they actually were?
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy and watchdog group, has taken a stand against language ambiguity in food marketing by filing a class-action lawsuit on October 4 against PepsiCo in regards to its Naked Juice products.
According to the official court complaint document, the CSPI alleges that PepsiCo markets its Naked beverages by using misleading phrases on labels, which read:
- No added sugar
- Only the best ingredients
- The goodness inside
- Just the healthiest fruits and vegetables
By using these eye-catching phrases, the CSPI claims that PepsiCo is attempting to dupe consumers into buying products that are far less nutritious and contain far greater sugar amounts than publicized. The Naked drink labels also feature images of superfoods, which the drinks don’t actually include.
Despite these allegations, PepsiCo isn’t admitting to any wrongdoing but maintains that its nutritional content facts found on the Naked Juice labels are verifiably accurate. If the CSPI wins the class-action suit, PepsiCo may have to pay monetary damages to previous buyers of Naked Juice drinks and/or adopt a more forthcoming marketing approach.
The suit is currently under review by the US District Court’s Eastern District of New York.