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Tropicana orange juice isn't natural. Or so say plaintiffs in 20 different lawsuits filed across the country.
The company markets its product as "100 percent orange juice" straight from the fields of Florida. But according to the orange juice lawsuits, Tropicana adds chemical "flavor packs" to the juice so that it tastes the same year-round.
Does this make Tropicana orange juice unnatural?
It's unclear. Tropicana isn't the first brand to be accused of misusing the label, reports the Associated Press. Tostitos, SunChips, Snapple and even Ben & Jerry's have been the subject of similar lawsuits.
These suits, as with the orange juice lawsuits, all rely on the deceptive advertising rules laid out by the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. The two agencies share jurisdiction over food labeling and advertising claims.
The problem is that neither agency has defined "natural," leaving industry to decide how it applies. Some of us wouldn't consider high fructose corn syrup natural, but it's technically made from processed corn. Snapple, explains the AP, was accused of deception when it made this leap.
As current rules stand, the FDA would probably agree with Snapple's stance. Its website plainly states that the agency will not object to the use of "natural" if the food has no added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.
It's unclear whether Tropicana's alleged "flavor packs" fall into any of these categories. They've been called a "chemically engineered" substance, but so is high fructose corn syrup. For this reason, there appears to be a good chance the orange juice lawsuits will fail.