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POM Wonderful Sues Coca-Cola Over Juice Labeling

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Pomegranate by Joe Marinaro on Flickr

Pomegranate by Joe Marinaro on Flickr

POM Wonderful, the makers of 100% pomegranate juice, is suing Coca-Cola, the parent company of Minute Maid, alleging false advertising regarding the latter’s pomegranate blueberry juice.

POM maintains that Coca-Cola is attempting to profit on the increasing popularity of pomegranates because of their health benefits by suggesting pomegranate is the main ingredient in its juice; in reality, pomegranate constitutes less than .3% of the juice while over 99% is a mixture of grape and apple juice.

For its part, Coca-Cola insists that it is in full compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines regarding food labeling, noting that along with “Pomegranate Blueberry,” the label also reads “Flavored Blend of 5 Juices” and has an image of pomegranates, grapes, apples, blueberries, and raspberries. The words “flavored” and “blend” are enough to imply there are more than just pomegranates and blueberries in the juice, contends Coca-Cola.

The lawsuit was brought under the Lanham Act, which prohibits false advertising.

In support of its allegations, POM Wonderful hired a research group to conduct an online survey of 1,200 people across the country to determine how consumers feel about the labeling of juices; three-quarters of respondents felt that companies exaggerate the existence of healthy ingredients, while a majority don’t believe the list of ingredients anyway.

POM has filed similar lawsuits against other juice giants Ocean Spray, Welch’s, and Tropicana, but has already stated that even if they lose in court, their fight for accurate labeling won’t end there. The company is determined to push for transparency in labeling and will take its cause to Washington if necessary; POM believes this struggle will benefit consumers not only through more truthful advertising but also through the development of better products.

What do you think? Is it time for stricter FDA guidelines regarding food labeling? Is Coca-Cola misleading consumers with its pomegranate blueberry juice? Does POM Wonderful have a good case?

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July 20th, 2010 at 12:27 pm