Naked Juice has settled a class action claim for more than $9 million, in an attempt to put to rest the legal battle over its "All Natural" claims.
Naked Juice, owned by PepsiCo, still denies that its labels were false or misleading. But the company has agreed to redesign its labels and to stop describing its juices as "all natural," reports LA Weekly.
This isn't the first time a food or drink manufacturer has hit a wall with the word "natural," but perhaps this case will prompt the FDA to move on the issue.
Misleading Drink Labels?
The subject of the now-settled lawsuit was a claim by Naked Juice that its stripped-down fruit juices were "all natural," despite the fact that they contained:
- Fibersol-2 (soluble corn fiber),
- Fructooligosaccarides (fruit sugar-based alternative sweeteners),
- Inulin (soluble fiber), and
- Genetically modified soy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority over terms like "natural" and "organic," and although the agency hasn't legally defined "natural," it generally objects to the term being used when artificial or synthetic additives are included in a product.
Reacting to customer complaints about misleading products, the FDA often steps in and warns the manufacturer "of the violation of law" and compels them to fix the problem.
'Natural' is Hard to Define
A spokesman for Naked Juice's parent company added that without "more detailed regulatory guidance around the word 'natural'," the company will not continue to use the term, reports BeverageDaily.com.
Part of the problem lies in the difficulty of defining "natural" in any product that has been processed, as many products like milk and even fruit juice must undergo pasteurization to be considered safe from E. coli and other food contaminants.
Unlike the movie "The Natural," which contains very little juice but a heaping helping of Robert Redford, Naked Juice has given up the N-word until the FDA can craft a decent definition.
As a part of the settlement agreement, Naked Juice will pay out portions of its pledged $9 million to the class of plaintiffs who opted-in to the class action settlement.
In addition to removing "all natural" from labels, Naked Juice pledged to hire experts to scientifically verify that its non-GMO claims are at least up to code with European standards, reports BeverageDaily.com.
Until then, Naked Juice fans will just have to assume that what is inside the bottle is probably at least natural-ish.
- Pepsi's Naked Juice Agrees To Pay In Lawsuit Over 'All Natural' Labels (Business Insider)
- Your Orange Juice Isn't Very Natural, Lawsuits Claim (FindLaw's Injured)
- The New Food Label (FindLaw)
- Nutella Lawsuit: Company to Pay Up Over Misleading Advertising (FindLaw's Common Law)