PepsiCo are being sued in the US over claims that it misled consumers by marketing its Naked Juice beverages as healthier than they really are.
The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer-advocacy group.
CSPI says Naked Juices mislead customers into believing that beverages are packed with super nutrients when the dominant ingredients are “cheap, nutrient-poor” juices.
I’ve written before about how bottled juices are not the same as freshly extracted juice and that processed fruit juice is one of the misunderstood foods in our modern culture.
I’ve also highlighted the use of technologies such as High Pressure Processing (HPP) to extend product shelf life for up to 45 days, whilst claiming juices are ‘cold pressed’ and implying they all still ‘all natural’. These claims are made despite the fact that the book Advances in Food Processing Technologies states, “High pressure can modify the microstructure of fruits. Changes in the fruit structure usually result from damage in the cell structure.”
Beverages that customers see as healthy are increasingly important parts of big companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo’s product portfolios.
Rise of the Pseudo Juice
Many of the pseudo juices available in major UK supermarkets are heavily laden with fruit. For example, Waitrose Apple, Kale & Lime Juice is over 85% fruit and Innocent Easy Greens is 79% apple juice!
PepsiCo’s naked juices are similar. For example, the Kale Blazer juice is mostly orange and apple juice, despite packaging and marketing that emphasises leafy-green imagery.
In 2013, PepsiCo’s Naked Juice paid a $9 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit after plaintiffs accused the company of falsely labelling some of its juices as “all natural.” The brand agreed to stop using the term on labels, though it denied that the term was misleading or false.
Customers are “not getting what they paid for”
In a statement about the CSPI’s lawsuit PepsiCo said: “All products in the Naked portfolio proudly use fruits and/or vegetables with no sugar added, and all Non-GMO claims on label are verified by an independent third party,” adding, “Any sugar present in Naked Juice products comes from the fruits and/or vegetables contained within and the sugar content is clearly reflected on label for all consumers to see.”
CSPI litigation director Maia Kats said in a statement: ”Consumers are paying higher prices for the healthful and expensive ingredients advertised on Naked labels, such as berries, cherries, kale and other greens, and mango, but consumers are predominantly getting apple juice, or in the case of Kale Blazer, orange and apple juice. They’re not getting what they paid for.”
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