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Tropicana Faces Class Action Over 'Natural' Claims

Tropicana Faces Class Action Over 'Natural' Claims


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The PepsiCo brand is the latest under fire for its product labeling with claims that a product is 'all-natural'

Your orange juice may not be as simply made as you might think.

Several companies have been earning flack lately for mislabeling their products as “healthy” or “GMO-free” and even orange juice is earning its fair share of criticism.

Juice-maker Tropicana, a PepsiCo brand, has failed to dismiss a U.S. class action that claims the company falsely labeled its orange juice as “100 percent pure and natural,” despite its use of pasteurization, processing, coloring and flavoring, according to Beverage Daily.

The class action is a consolidation of different customer lawsuits dating back to December 2011. The lawsuit disputed language like that on the company’s website, reading “no water, sugar or preservatives are ever added and it is never from concentrate, so you can get only the freshest, most delicious straight-from-the-orange taste.”

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Caroline Bartlett, told BeverageDaily that she was pleased with the outcome and was looking forward to continue the fight in court.

While they will have to continue to bout in court, Tropicana released a statement saying it stands behind its claims. Tropicana will now file an answer to an amended complaint on August 5, according to Beverage Daily.


California Woman Sues OJ Giant Tropicana Over Flavor Packs

Angelena Lewis files lawsuit against PepsiCo's Tropicana for "deceptive" ads.

Flavoring Found in Orange Juice Recipe

Jan. 20, 2012— -- A California mother is taking on orange juice giant Tropicana, alleging in a lawsuit that the company's not-from-concentrate Pure Premium juice is "heavily processed" and not a "natural" product.

In a class-action suit filed Jan. 6 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, Angelena Lewis, 32, of Vacaville alleges that the addition of aromas and flavor packs "changes the essential nature" of the juice.

"While Tropicana claims that 'making Tropicana orange juice is truly art,' it is far more a science," the lawsuit alleges.

If the class action moves forward, the lawsuit would represent anyone in the nation who had bought Tropicana Pure Premium, which is made by Tropicana Products, a division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc.

They allege that advertising claims are misleading and that Tropicana Products has violated consumer fraud statutes in various states, including California's false-misleading advertising law.

Lawyers have also made their claim under California's Legal Remedies Act and the Unfair Competition Law.

The lawsuit cites the packaging of the Pure Premium brand, "an illustration of an orange with a straw stuck into it, which is meant to convey the message that [not-from-concentrate] juice is fresh from the orange. This reinforces the '100 percent Pure and Natural Orange Juice' claim in large prominent type."

"It is not natural orange juice," according to the complaint. "It is instead a product that is scientifically engineered in laboratories, not nature, which explains its shelf-life of more than two months."

Tropicana spokesman Michael Torres would not address allegations of false advertising, but instead provided a written statement to ABCNews.com.

"Our juice is safe, nutritious and Tropicana remains committed to offering great-tasting 100 percent orange juice with no added sugars or preservatives," Torres wrote. "We take the faith that consumers place in our products seriously and are committed to full compliance with labeling laws and regulations."

Tropicana holds about 40 percent of the market share of all orange juice sold each year and had worldwide retail sales of about $5 billion in 2010, according to the lawsuit.

On its website, Tropicana said each 59-ounce container of Pure Premium has "16 fresh-picked oranges squeezed into it."

"Angelina purchased Tropicana for her family based on the representation Tropicana made on its product label," Lewis' lawyer, Sarah N. Westcot, said. "I think they know people have a preference for natural products and capitalize on that. . She wouldn't have bought the product if she knew what went in to making the juice."

Under California law involving class action suits, the litigants are seeking an aggregate of at least $5 million, she said.

"It is a national class-action suit on behalf of everyone in the United States," Westcot said. Tropicana has 21 days to file their response.

Westcot said she believes "we have a strong case."

Lewis has not returned a call from ABC News for comment.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of news that trace amounts of the fungicide carbendazim was recently found in some Minute Maid orange juice made by Coca Cola and juices of some of its competitors.

The juices in question were made of oranges imported from Brazil, where that fungicide is legal, and Coca Cola alerted the FDA of the trees had been sprayed with the chemical.

The FDA found no chemicals in Tropicana brands and the company has subsequently said it will use only Florida oranges going forward.

The Food and Drug Administration does not require companies to add flavor packs to the labeling of pasteurized juice (which includes the from-concentrate as well as the not-from-concentrate versions), according to the citrus industry.

As for claims of being a natural product, agency spokesman Siohban DeLancy said, "The FDA has never defined the term, 'natural.' However, we don't object to its use if it is truthful and not misleading."


Florida's Natural will always taste the same

While you've likely noticed that different brands of orange juice taste different, you probably haven't thought about why that is. Just like freshly squeezed orange juice, or even just eating regular oranges, each fruit has a slightly different sweetness or juiciness level. It's because each brand of orange juice does actually follow a recipe and they add what's called "flavor packs" (via Smithsonian Magazine). Even if the brand claims to use nothing but pure orange juice, it's the flavor packs that set each brand apart.

According to Open Pasture Meats, orange juice is kept in holding tanks where the oxygen is eliminated from the juice after it is squeezed from the fruit. Oxygen or exposure to air causes oxidation, and oxidation causes the orange juice to age and eventually go bad (via Online Library). By removing the oxygen from the juice, the manufacturers can keep the juice stored for around a year without any negative effects. The problem is the process of removing the oxygen also takes away a lot of the flavor and aroma you would associate with orange juice.

This is where flavor packs come in. They're made by fragrance companies with oranges' essence and oil. This means that the orange juice can still be labeled as "natural" even though there's a lot of chemistry involved. The flavor packs are made specifically for each individual brand, like Florida's Natural, though many are based on the taste and smell of Florida Valencia oranges during springtime (via Civil Eats).


Top eye clinic faces claims over ‘faulty’ model of lens

A surgeon who worked for the market leader in corrective eye surgery, Optical Express, claims he voiced concerns about the performance of the Mplus X lens in the UK earlier last year. Photograph: Alamy

A surgeon who worked for the market leader in corrective eye surgery, Optical Express, claims he voiced concerns about the performance of the Mplus X lens in the UK earlier last year. Photograph: Alamy

Last modified on Sat 2 Dec 2017 06.17 GMT

This article is the subject of a legal complaint made by Oculentis B/V and Optical Express.

The multibillion-pound corrective eye surgery industry has been thrust into the spotlight as regulators announced they were investigating claims that a new artificial lens implanted into the eyes of thousands of patients had caused serious loss of vision.

Officials have launched their inquiry after a number of concerned surgeons submitted testimony that patients had complained of defective vision, with some, according to one doctor, struggling to see clearly beyond the outstretched length of their arms.

Around 120,000 people seeking a life without glasses undergo corrective eye surgery every year either by laser or, often in the case of the over-50s, through the replacement of their natural lenses through surgery.

It is believed that over the last year many thousands were fitted with the Mplus X lens in a boom time for the industry fuelled by marketing and the promise of interest-free credit on bills, which can be in excess of £3,000 an eye.

The lens in question, manufactured by German company Oculentis and introduced into the UK last January, was supposed to offer an improved performance on previous models.

The Observer has learned, however, that Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Trust, the largest ophthalmic centre in Europe, submitted an official report about the lens after four of its six patients who had had the implant reported a worrying loss of quality of vision.

Oculentis’s chief executive, Ben Wanders, also confirmed that its Australian distributor had decided “this is not a lens for the Australian people” after complaints in that country from surgeons.

A surgeon who worked until December for the market leader in corrective eye surgery, Optical Express, claimed that he voiced concerns about the performance of the Mplus X lens in the UK to his then employer earlier last year.

George Settas, who worked as a surgeon at Optical Express for four years, said: “I told them, on more than one occasion, that I had concerns regarding the performance of the Mplus X lens, as I felt that there were a lot more patients experiencing quality of vision problems with this lens than other lenses. Explanting – ie removing – such a lens is not an easy procedure at all. Concerned by what I felt was an increase in the number of explants with the Mplus X lens, I raised the issue within Optical Express. In the end I had to file a report with the appropriate regulatory authority.”

He added: “The patients were complaining that they couldn’t see clearly, usually at distance. Most were saying that they could read but that they could not see properly beyond their arm’s length, which was a bit surprising. You would not expect people to have a problem at that distance.”

Optical Express confirmed that Settas did express concerns about quality of vision problems with the Mplus X lens but said that the surgeon’s experience was anecdotal while its scientific study of outcomes suggested there was no cause for concern. Settas also claimed that Optical Express only finally removed stocks of the Mplus X lenses from its clinics in late November, despite him raising concerns in September.

Optical Express’s clinical services director, Stephen Hannan, said that some banks of the lens remained in clinics and that concerns about the lens had not been the reason for the withdrawal of others. He denied that any concerns were raised by Settas until October.

Hannan said that the company had concluded that there was no advantage in continuing to stock the new Mplus X version rather than the older model as it had similar outcomes. He said: “The Mplus X lens has excellent ocular outcomes for patients. Our experience and detailed assessment of these ocular outcomes confirms this to be the case.”

On Saturday lawyers who represented a 28-year old-woman to whom Optical Express was ordered to pay £500,000 in damages in September after her eyes were left so damaged by laser eye surgery that she has to wear sunglasses during the day said 45 complainants against the firm had contacted them since the case, and that some had been fitted with the Mplus X lens, which may form part of a class action.

Nick Grant, a partner at Devonshires solicitors, said: “I think there will be further individuals seeking to make a claim against Optical Express and expect that, based on the number of claims coming in, Devonshires will be bringing a class action against Optical Express in the near future on this Mplus X lens issue. Devonshires are currently obtaining copies of clients’ medical records before reviewing and instructing an expert to prepare a report. My advice is that anyone who thinks they may have been given an Mplus X lens and had a disappointing outcome should seek legal advice.”

A spokesman for the Medical Health Regulatory Authority said: “We are currently investigating and will take action if necessary.”


Samsung Faces Class Action Over Galaxy Note 7 Recalls

After Samsung Electronics Co. pulled the plug on its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7, plaintiffs' lawyers are pulling the trigger on a class action against the reeling South Korean technology giant.

Samsung a week ago said it's halting production of the Galaxy Note 7 following back-to-back global recalls in response to a string of reports about the device and its replacement catching fire. The company tried to make amends: It offered Note 7 owners $100 off their next smartphone if they stick with Samsung or a $25 discount if they don’t.

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Lawsuits slam 'natural' claims from OJ to chips

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orange juice maker Tropicana markets its brand as fresh from the grove, but a series of lawsuits nationwide claim the company's juice is so heavily processed it shouldn't be called "natural."

In approximately 20 lawsuits, the first one filed in New Jersey, lawyers claim the company adds chemically engineered "flavor packs" to its juice, making it taste the same year-round. On Thursday, lawyers came together in Washington to argue before a panel of judges about where the lawsuits should be heard as a group.

Tropicana declined to comment but said in a statement that it is committed to full compliance with labeling laws and to producing "great-tasting 100 percent orange juice."

The orange juice lawsuits are just the latest disputes over "all natural" claims. Over the past several years, a number of major national brands have been attacked for what consumers have called deceptive labeling. Tostitos, SunChips, Snapple and Ben & Jerry's ice cream have all faced similar attacks.

The lawsuits have become common enough that the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 300 food and beverage makers, had a panel that discussed the topic as part of a conference in February. Lawyers representing food and beverage companies have told their clients to be wary. Part of the problem, lawyers agree, is that consumers are looking for healthier products, and companies have responded by creating and branding their products as "all natural."

The Food and Drug Administration, the agency that oversees packaged food labeling in the United States, has no definition of what counts as "natural." As long as a food labeled "natural" doesn't contain added color, artificial flavor or synthetic substances, the agency doesn't object.

That's not enough guidance, some lawyers said.

"The whole natural issue is a mess," said Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based food safety and advocacy group that helped get the makers of 7UP and Capri Sun to stop making natural claims about their products.

Jacobson and others say the FDA's lack of guidance has left lingering questions.

One question has been whether a product with high fructose corn syrup, which is made by processing corn but does not occur naturally, can be labeled natural. That was the issue in a 2007 lawsuit over Snapple drinks. Snapple has said it no longer uses high fructose corn syrup in products marked "all natural," and a New York judge ultimately ruled in Snapple's favor and closed the case last year, but other lawsuits are still questioning the use of the term.

Many "all natural" lawsuits are still in their infancy, said Kellie Lerner a lawyer who is involved in the orange juice litigation and closely following "all natural" cases. Lerner said like the orange juice lawsuit, other similar lawsuits have sought class action status, where one or more consumers sue on behalf of all people who bought the product.

The lawsuits could get dismissed or go to trial, but companies could agree to settle with consumers and offer product vouchers or rebates. The company that owns Ben & Jerry's and Breyers ice cream, for example, settled "all natural" lawsuits for $7.5 million earlier this year, providing customers who bought flavors like "Chubby Hubby" and "Chunky Monkey" cash rebates of up to $20. The ice cream company also agreed to change its packaging, and that's something lawyers involved in the orange juice lawsuit want too.

"I'd like them to modify their marketing so that consumers can make an informed judgment on their purchases," said Stephen A. Weiss, a lawyer involved in one of the lawsuits against Tropicana.

The Tropicana lawsuits are partly the result of a 2009 book about the orange juice industry, Alissa Hamilton's "Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice." Hamilton, a doctoral student at Yale when she started researching orange juice, spent five years learning about the industry, interviewing Tropicana employees, growers, farmers, and others. Hamilton, who has consulted with one of the firms involved in a Tropicana lawsuit, said she would like to see Tropicana be clearer in its labeling and stop using words such as "fresh," ''natural" and "pure."

"It's not simply orange, it's complicated orange," she said. "I'm just trying to advocate for more honesty and more transparency."

Follow Jessica Gresko on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko .

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A lawsuit has been filed against the Norwegian government over a decision to open up the Barents Sea for oil exploration which campaigners say violates the country’s constitution and threatens the Paris climate agreement.

The case is being brought by an alliance including Greenpeace, indigenous activists, youth groups, and the former director of Nasa’s Goddard institute for space studies, James Hansen.

Norway is seen internationally as a green role model by many for its pledge of climate neutrality by 2030, its reliance on hydropower and ambitious plans for electric cars.

But Conservative prime minister, Erna Solberg, could now be forced to appear before an Oslo city court on charges of violating Article 112 of the country’s constitution, which guarantees every citizen’s right to a healthy, diverse and productive environment.

Truls Gulowsen, the director of Greenpeace Norway, said: “Signing an international climate agreement while throwing open the door to Arctic oil drilling is a dangerous act of hypocrisy. By allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic, Norway risks undermining global efforts to address climate change.”

The case hinges on licences handed out to 13 oil companies - including Statoil, Chevron and Aker BP - allowing oil exploration in the Barents Sea, the most northerly point yet prospected.

Several exploratory wells are planned to open in 2017, and these could help wreck the Paris climate agreement’s ambition of holding global warming to 1.5C, the plaintiffs say.

In a letter to the prime minister seen by the Guardian, Hansen compares Norway’s behaviour to that of a “climate rogue state”.

“I will not mince words, Mrs Solberg,” he says. “Your government’s actions are utterly at odds with the scientific consensus that underpins the Paris agreement. Norway appears hell-bent on sabotaging the treaty before it has even come into effect.”

Speaking to the Guardian from Oslo, Hansen added: “Norway is not all that green. It is burning 70% more fossil fuels per person than Sweden, and mining 20 times more fossil fuels than it needs for its own use. It is using that to create wealth but it is going to have to decide: does it want to be a rogue state or does it want to obey the rule of law?”

Next month, a ruling is expected in a similar civil rights-style class action that Hansen and his grand-daughter, Sophie, filed against the US government, along with 20 other young people.

Shifting the climate fight towards the courts is a new strategy for campaigners, with high-profile legal actions being heard in the Netherlands and the Philippines in the last two years. Several more lawsuits are being prepared around the world, although campaigners will not yet share details.

The Norwegian case focuses on a constitutional amendment – Article 112 – passed in 2014 that has never been tested in a court of law.

This stipulates that “every person has a right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. Natural resources should be managed on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations whereby this right will be safeguarded for future generations as well.”

Gulowsen said: “The constitutional passage is unexplored territory but our lawyers believe we have a very strong case. The factual basis [of the claim] is there. The question is how the court will deal with the facts.”

Another litigant, Ingrid Skjoldværfrom the Nature and Youth group, added: “We will argue in court that the Norwegian government has an obligation to keep its climate promises and will invoke the people’s right to a healthy environment for ours and future generations. This is the People vs Arctic oil!”

One firm which is not participating in the new Arctic oil rush is Shell, which pulled out of a drilling project in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea last year, privately conceding reputational damage.

Publicly, Shell blames low oil prices for its retreat from the Barents this time. Tor Arnesen, the director of A/S Norske Shell, said: “Despite knowing we could have explored safely, both environmentally and technically, the current conditions are such that we globally have to prioritise activities with a shorter return on investment.”


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The center said it had previously raised concerns about the “natural” claims on Nature Valley products with General Mills in 2010 and that the company had taken high fructose corn syrup out of most of them, but had not removed the other two ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration recently denied an application by the Corn Refiners Association to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to corn sugar on nutrition labels. Consumer groups had opposed the request because some consumers have adverse reactions to the substance and might be confused by the less specific identification.

Early onset bipolar disease, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety were diagnosed in Ms. McKendrick’s daughter at age 6, and she was prescribed three medications.

After doing some research, Ms. McKendrick, who teaches agriculture in Kern County, Calif., decided to eliminate all foods with dyes and processed ingredients from her daughter’s diet to try to control her condition. “Everything we eat is organic or all natural,” she said. “I’ve cut out all additives, preservatives, dye, everything, and after two years of doing that, she’s been released from all those diagnoses, all of them.”

Ms. McKendrick had been feeding her daughter what she thought was a wholly natural diet for some time but some lingering anxiety persisted, she said.

During that time, she had purchased Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix Fruit & Nut Granola Bars, Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Cashew Granola Bars and Nature Valley Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Granola Thins for her daughter believing that the “100% Natural” on the box meant they no processed ingredients in them.

Finally, after more research and scouring her Feingold Program Foodlist, a guidebook for people treating mental disorders with diets, she realized the Nature Valley products had processed ingredients in them. “I was shocked,” Ms. McKendrick said. “It’s false advertising.”


Food Labels Are LYING To You. Spot These Lies On The Package!

You’re grocery shopping and trying to find a safe cooking oil. You’ve been cleaning up your diet and want something healthy to saute all those veggies you’ve been eating. Since you’ve read my investigations, you know that canola, soybean, and other processed oils are out because they are ridiculously bad for you. You see a shelf lined with cooking sprays like PAM, and recall hearing that those aren’t healthy for you either, until you see this one…

It says simply “100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil” right there on the front of the can.

So you think, “Bam! This is perfect! It contains just 100% olive oil without any nasty unhealthy additives”.

Well, what if I told you this product was lying to you? That there’s not really 100% olive oil in that can?

Smucker’s (the maker of Crisco) has been sued for misleading the public into believing this cooking spray contains 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil – because it simply isn’t true (1). This cooking spray actually contains Soy Lecithin, Dimethyl Silicone, and Propellant, which could be found discreetly listed on the ingredient label on the back of the can (which the average consumer doesn’t look at):

Soy Lecithin : This emulsifying additive is “produced by degumming crude soy oil extracted from soy flakes with hexane” (2). Hexane is the neurotoxin (3) that comes from gasoline production. It’s possible that some hexane remains in the finished product (4) and almost all toxicology research on hexane focuses on the industrial use and inhalation of hexane, so no one knows exactly how dangerous eating it is – but it surely isn’t healthy.

Dimethyl Silicone : This silicone ingredient is commonly used in lubricants and hydraulic fluids (2). Again, not much research has been done on what happens when we actually eat it.

Propellant : This is used to propel the spray from the can, but it’s not simply compressed air. According to the lawsuit, the ingredient is “Propane and Isobutane, substances that are classified as ‘Hazardous Ingredients’ by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration” and Crisco is “violating state and federal law by refraining from disclosing the common or usual name” of these ingredients on the packaging (2). In other words, even the ingredient label is lying to you.

After they got sued, Crisco changed their packaging to remove the “100%” from the front of the can, but kept the ingredients the same.

This just goes to show how far they were willing to go to mislead customers and didn’t change until they were caught and sued. It’s just so outrageous because when a product says that it’s 100% of something, don’t you think it should really be 100%?

The thing is, this isn’t an isolated event. Many products lie on the front of the packaging, for example…

  • Ocean Spray 100% Juice isn’t 100% juice. It also contains natural flavors, pectin, and synthetic vitamin C.
  • Best Foods Olive Oil Mayo is actually made with mostly soybean oil, rather than olive oil.
  • RXBar proudly lists the ingredients on the front of their package, but they suspiciously leave off the natural flavors. No B.S… right?
  • Canada Dry Ginger Ale says it’s “Made from Real Ginger” but you won’t find ginger listed anywhere on the ingredient list. This is the subject of another lawsuit that just settled for $11.2 million (5) – so they will be changing their deceptive labels soon (6).

I could go on. I can’t count how many times I’ve been shopping and found a product with a marketing claim on the front of the package that was so misleading that it was hardly true.

This is a reminder to ALWAYS read the ingredient list on your food and not to trust what the front of the package says. Food labels are lying!

If you know anyone who might be swindled by lies like these, please share this post with them. People need to know the truth.


5 misleading label claims struck down by the FTC

In an industry with intense competition and millions of dollars in sales on the line, food manufacturers sometimes toe the line between truth and a questionable claim to sell a product.

Consumers are looking more closely than ever at labels as they eat more healthier, natural foods. For most shoppers, they should be able to believe any health benefits heralded on the packaging because companies are required to have scientific proof backing up their bold statements.

But in an industry besieged by intense competition and changing consumer tastes, food manufacturers sometimes toe the line between truth and a questionable claim to sell a product and distance themselves from their competitors — with the Federal Trade Commission there to catch them if they stray too far. Even knowing they could be subjected to the FTC’s scrutiny, some food and beverage makers still try to get away with bending the truth.

“Companies create these things because they’re hoping to create a message that will stick in the consumers’ minds,” Jonah Berger, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who studies how products, ideas and behaviors catch on, told Food Dive.

But do claims like "promotes weight loss" or "more calcium than a glass of milk" really have an impact on the bottom line? Berger said that it's hard to tell whether it will translate to increased sales, but “companies spend a lot of money on this in the hope that it will."

Larger brands generally seem to be immune to the ire of the FTC, but they have been known to push the envelope on occasion. Here are five of the label claims that have been struck down or challenged by the regulatory agency.

Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats

Frosted Mini-Wheats claimed its cereal was clinically proven to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20%. In its case, the FTC expressed concern over several assertions produced by Kellogg, which makes the popular breakfast item.

“What we found was the clinical study that they had first of all compared eating Frosted Mini-Wheats to having just water for breakfast," Mary Engle, the FTC's associate director for advertising practices, told Food Dive. " So it was basically having breakfast versus not having breakfast, which we thought needed to be disclosed.”

The claim also overstated the results. The average attentiveness of a child eating the cereal for breakfast only improved 11%. One in seven kids got the 18% improvement, which the company said was "nearly 20%"

In 2009, the case was settled, and Kellogg was “barred from making claims about the benefits to cognitive health, process, or function provided by any cereal or any morning food or snack food unless the claims were true and substantiated,” according to the FTC.

Within a year, Kellogg’s ad team ran into problems again after they violated the terms of the settlement with a new unsubstantiated claim, this time for Rice Krispies cereal.

The product packaging stated that Rice Krispies cereal “now helps support your child’s immunity,” with “25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients – Vitamins A, B, C, and E.” This ad campaign was launched at the start of cold and flu season in the fall, implying that eating Rice Krispies Cereal will help protect the consumer from catching these illnesses.

The FTC took action quickly, modifying their previous order for the Frosted Mini-Wheats case, and broadening it to include future claims of any health benefits. If Kellogg violates this order in the future, the Michigan company would have to pay a civil penalty of $16,000 per violation. Kellogg has not made any fraudulent claims since this order was reached.

Gerber’s Good Start Gentle Formula

From 2011 to 2014, Gerber Products, a subsidiary of the Nestle, advertised that its Good Start Gentle formula would prevent or reduce the risk for infants to develop allergies. Ads included lines such as “You want your baby to have your imagination…Your smile…Your eyes…Not your allergies.”

"FDA evaluated it and thought there wasn’t very much science to support the claim at all, but Gerber turned that into a gold seal claim.”

FTC's associate director for advertising practices

In 2009, Gerber petitioned the FDA for permission to make a claim connecting partially hydrolyzed whey proteins (PHWP) to the reduced risk of atopic dermatitis, or eczema, in infants. The FDA consented, but only if Gerber clearly stated there is “little scientific evidence” for the causal relationship. Gerber turned that into approval to claim their product is the “1st and Only” formula that “Meets FDA Qualified Health Claim,” and that it would prevent or reduce the risk of allergies in general.

“What the facts are, is that they submitted their claim to FDA,” says Engle. “FDA evaluated it and thought there wasn’t very much science to support the claim at all, but Gerber turned that into a gold seal claim.”

In October 2014, the FTC charged Gerber with deceptive practices and accused it of lacking scientific evidence to make the general allergy-prevention claims. The matter is currently in litigation.

Kevin Goldberg, vice president and general counsel for Gerber, defended the company when the FTC suit was filed.

“Gerber always has and will continue to treat its mission of delivering nutrition and benefits to infants as its top priority," he told USA Today. "We believe the information conveyed in our marketing is important for parents who have children at risk for atopic dermatitis, the most common allergy in infancy.”

Engle told Food Dive the matter currently is in litigation.

Tropicana Healthy Heart Orange Juice

Tropicana claimed d rinking two to three glasses a day of its “Healthy Heart” orange juice would produce dramatic effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and homocysteine levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Tropicana ran the “Healthy Heart” ads in 2002, and again in 2004. In July 2002, during the juice maker’s extensive national advertising campaign, FTC staff expressed concern about the claims. Tropicana quickly dropped them, and the FTC didn’t require that it sign a formal order.

In February 2004, Tropicana ran a very similar “Healthy Heart” ad as a two-page spread in Newsweek magazine. In most cases, the FTC takes the scale and reach of an ad campaign into consideration when investigating a claim. Since the agency had already expressed concern in 2002, the FTC challenged the advertising as overstating the heart-healthy benefits in an order, which would fine Tropicana if they ran those claims for a third time.

By June 2005, Tropicana settled FTC charges that it lacked evidence to support its heart and stroke-related claims tied to the orange juice.

Greg Shearson, president of Tropicana Beverages North America, spoke with the L.A. Times when the deal was reached. “The settlement was not an admission that the law has been violated," he said.

Tropicana hasn’t violated the order since then.

POM Wonderful

POM Wonderful's 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements claimed in extensive advertising that the products had "Super health powers . backed by $25 million in medical research" showing they prevented or treated heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. It even touted scientific research and claims in advertisements, including it’s “40% as effective as Viagra.”

The trouble was POM's studies didn’t support the claims the company was making. POM Wonderful's claims were especially egregious because of their ads, Engle said.

“Most of them touted that they had spent $25, $30 million dollars in research on the product, so they really hammered you over the head with the fact that they had done serious, scientific research on these products, so you could rely on the claims,” she said.

But in reality, Engle said the science was very weak.

POM Wonderful didn’t just drop its ads in 2010 when the FTC charged them with making false and unsubstantiated claims about its products. The case went into litigation and it was ruled that POM Wonderful did not have adequate research to back up its health claims. POM Wonderful appealed the decision, but the order was once again upheld.

“We continue to stand behind our efforts to publicly convey valuable information about the health benefits of POM,” Steven Clark, a company spokesman, told Reuters in May 2016.

In light of POM Wonderful’s claims, the FTC’s complaint included a more severe order that would require the FDA to approve any future health claims that the company's product prevents or treats serious diseases.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Kentucky Fried Chicken claimed in ads that one of its Original Recipe chicken breasts has only 11 grams of carbohydrates and 40 grams of protein. It also claimed that two Original Recipe fried chicken breasts were healthier than eating a Burger King Whopper.

These claims would be true if the consumer took the breading and skin off of the fried chicken breasts before eating them. KFC, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, failed to include this nutritional information in its advertising.

The FTC charged the restaurant chain in 2004 with false claims about its relative nutritional value, and for claiming its chicken was compatible with a low-carb/high-protein weight loss program. The FTC found two fried chicken breasts have more calories and more than three times the trans fat and cholesterol than a Whopper. It also contained more calories than the popular burger. And neither the Atkins or South Beach diets condone eating breaded, fried foods, the agency said.

Soon after the KFC ads ran, they were criticized by consumers and industry experts alike. The Washington Post reported that Advertising Age wrote an editorial on the campaign, calling them “laughable and damaging,” and encouraged KFC to pull the spots immediately.

KFC settled the case, but did not admit any fault or liability.

Scott Bergren, chief marketing and food innovation officer at KFC, told The Washington Post it agreed to the settlement "to put the issue behind us." He added, "We have always believed our ads to be truthful and factually accurate."

What's next for food labeling claims?

Food manufacturer’s today can glean a good deal of insight from the cases brought against other companies, according to Engle.

“I think it’s important for companies to make sure that their advertisement claims don’t overstate the benefits, that they don’t get ahead of the science.” says Engle. “And if the science is weak or limited, that you can’t have these strong, hard-hitting advertisement campaigns.”

“People no longer care about the claim, they care about the ingredient table, and they have educated themselves to be able to read it intelligently and be able to translate it into what they feel is important to them.”


Watch the video: Tropic en Action Live (May 2022).