The Center for Science in the Public Interest – a ‘nonprofit nutrition and food-safety watchdog group’ – say that consumers are paying higher prices for the expensive ingredients advertised on the labels, when the predominant ingredient is ‘usually cheap, nutrient-poor apple juice’.
The CSPI also claims that a ‘no sugar added’ label implies products are low in sugar, ‘when the drinks are high in sugar’. But PepsiCo says the sugar present comes from fruits and/or vegetables, and that sugar content is clearly labelled.
Plaintiffs: ‘Drinks do not have the ingredient profile represented’
In the lawsuit filed this week, three plaintiffs allege that PepsiCo’s drinks do not have the ingredient profile that consumers are led to believe.
“PepsiCo markets its Naked beverages as highly nutritious drinks comprised of super nutrients… in liquid form,” they say in the lawsuit.
“PepsiCo does this by naming each Naked beverage after a food or ingredient perceived by consumers to be highly nutritious, like kale, and filling its labels with photographs of these same ingredients.”
“PepsiCo’s claims are false and misleading because the drinks do not have the ingredient profile represented. Instead, Naked beverages predominantly consist of cheaper and less nutritious ingredients like apple juice.”
The plaintiffs claim that they would not have purchased Naked beverages had they known that the products ‘lacked the ingredient value and nutritional profile marketed by PepsiCo’.
Kale Blazer: the ingredient list
The CSPI references the products Kale Blazer and Green Machine.
In the case of Kale Blazer, the label features leaves of kale, leafy greens, and cucumber slices. The text reads ‘Kale is king of the garden’ and references the inclusion of cucumber, spinach, celery and ginger.
“Advertisements for the product on social media and elsewhere similarly exaggerate the presence of kale in the product,” says the CSPI.
“Outdoor advertising for Kale Blazer has included statements such as “have your kale and drink it too,” implying that the product is predominantly, if not exclusively, kale.”
However, the CSPI emphasizes that the primary ingredient in Kale Blazer is orange juice, and the third most common ingredient is apple juice.
Kale Blazer ingredients (as displayed on PepsiCo’s website) are: orange juice, kale puree, apple juice, cucumber juice, spinach juice, celery puree, ginger juice, lemon juice and natural flavors.
A statement from PepsiCo says: “This is a baseless lawsuit.
"There is nothing misleading about our Naked Juice products. Every bottle of Naked Juice clearly identifies the fruit and vegetables that are within.
"For example, the label on our Kale Blazer juice accurately indicates each bottle contains 5 3/4 Kale leaves.”
The CSPI also takes issue with the ‘no sugar added’ label on the bottle, for ‘implying that the product is low in sugar’.
“A 15 oz. bottle has eight teaspoons of sugar, largely from orange and apple juice. In comparison, a 12 oz. can of Pepsi has 10 teaspoons of sugar,” it says.
PepsiCo’s statement says: “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.
“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.
“We hold ourselves to a high standard and proudly support clear and transparent labeling of all ingredients on our packaging, on our website and in our marketing.”
CSPI, along with law firm Reese LLP, filed suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York this week, ‘on behalf of consumers in California and New York’.