Months after a California woman sued Nutella for false advertising another California woman is suing Tropicana’s parent company for claiming its orange juice is “100% pure and natural” when it is not.
The plaintiff Angelena Lewis said Tropicana Products Inc, know consumers “want and demand natural products” and deceives them with it’s advertising and packaging for its Pure Premium juice, including the cartons with the image of an orange with a straw stuck into it.
So what exactly is in Tropicana’s orange juice anyway? According to Tropicana’s website their Pure Premium has 16 fresh-picked oranges squeezed into each 59-ounce container. Lewis claims the juice is put through extensive processing, has aromas and flavors added, and that all of this changes its “essential nature” in order to give it a longer shelf life. This, she claims, allows Tropicana to charge more than its rivals adding to its over $5 billion in annual sales worldwide.
“While Tropicana claims that ‘making Tropicana orange juice is truly an art’ it is far more a science,” said the complaint. “The resulting product does not taste like fresh squeezed orange juice.” True indeed, even a child can see fresh squeezed orange juice looks nothing like Tropicana orange juice.
In a statement Tropicana responded it “remains committed to offering great-tasting 100 percent orange juice with no added sugars or preservatives. We take the faith that consumers place in our products seriously and are committed to full compliance with labeling laws and regulations.”
This lawsuit could very well boil down to one word, “natural”. It comes with certain ideas and even expectations, but I know of no legal or USDA definition of the word “natural” (unlike the word organic) so I suspect Tropicana and their legal eagles can find some technical way to get off. The precedent that sets, however, could set consumer truth in advertising lawsuits back. Or who knows, maybe we can actually get a legal definition for natural that doesn’t allow for extra processed juice. In the meantime you could do better for juice- squeeze your own!
There were some pretty negative comments on that Nutella lawsuit post so if you think the Nutella false advertising claims were frivolous what do you think of this Tropicana lawsuit? Does it make a difference that orange juice comes from a whole food and isn’t outright expected to be a processed food? Do these companies have any responsibility to consumers with their “natural” and “health” claims?