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July 26, 2012 / Christian Przybylowski

Class Action Lawsuit Slams Tropicana Orange Juice

Tropicana is under fire for claiming that their Orange Juice is “natural.” Approximately 20 lawsuits have been filed asserting that the juice is so heavily processed that the “all natural” label is misleading. The suits also allege that Tropicana uses chemically-engineered flavor packs to ensure that their juice has the same taste all year round. Tropicana is the latest of a host of manufacturers being sued by consumers claiming their labels are misleading. Lawsuits have increased in recent years as more companies are branding their products as “all natural” to attract consumers looking for healthier foods.

The Food and Drug Administration permits the phrase “all natural” on product labels, so long as the product does not use added colors, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.  However, the term “natural” can be ambiguous. Common ingredients like high fructose corn syrup appear in foods labeled “all natural,” even though that ingredient is produced by heavily processing corn. Yet in recent years, at least one lawsuit asserting that high fructose corn syrup was not “all natural,” against Snapple, was unsuccessful.

There have been victories as well.  A consumer advocacy group in Washington successfully convinced the makers of 7UP and Capri Sun to stop making the “natural” claims in their product advertising. The owners of Ben & Jerry’s settled a suit over “all natural” claims in connection with their “Chubby Hubby” and “Chunky Monkey” ice cream flavors, giving cash rebates to purchasers of those flavors and removing the “all natural” labeling.

Consumer lawsuits alleging product mislabeling and deception ultimately seek to promote clarity and transparency from companies claiming that their products are “natural,” “fresh,” or “pure,” in order to give consumers a better ability to make informed choices about whether the product they are purchasing is actually healthier for them. If found liable for false advertising, Tropicana could potentially face damages for violation of California’s False Advertising Act (Business and Professions Code section 17500), Unfair Competition Law (Business and Professions Code section 17200), and Consumer Legal Remedies Act (Civil Code section 1770).

If you or a loved one feels they have been misled consumer products manufacturers for false or deceptive food labels, please notify Khorrami, LLP for a confidential evaluation of your rights.

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