How much ginseng must a drink contain to advertise itself as containing ginseng? The complaint for this class action, brought against the parties responsible for AriZona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey, says that the amount should be at least scientifically detectable.
The class for this action is all persons who, between April 1, 2015 and the present, bought the gallon jug or 23-ounce can of AriZona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey in any state in the US other than California. Two state subclasses have also been proposed, for New York and Florida.
The defendants in this case include Beverage Marketing USA, Inc., Hornell Brewing Co., Inc., AriZona Beverage Company, LLC, AriZona Beverages USA, LLC, and AriZona Iced Tea, LLC.
Two trends in the beverage market have led to the success of this drink, the complaint claims: the desire of consumers for healthier drinks and the desire for drinks that provide additional energy, preferably by natural means. The complaint notes, “Ginseng is believed to be a cure for low energy, and is purported to have other health benefits.”
The website for the defendants claims that AriZona’s Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey is “America’s best-selling green tea.” The 23-ounce can and gallon jug of the drink claim that it contains “Ginseng for energy.” On the front of the containers, the word “ginseng” is emphasized with capitalization: “Green Tea With GINSENG and HONEY.”
On the primary webpage for the product is the question, “Ever wonder how it became so popular?” The answer is supposedly because it contains “100% natural green tea” and “just the right amount of ginseng” plus premium honey.
How much ginseng is this “just the right amount”? Counsel in this case claim to have had “two respected food laboratories” test the product for ginsenosides, “the main chemical constituent of ginseng.” The result? None of the tests detected any ginsengosides. The complaint says that the drink therefore contains “a scientifically undetectable amount”—“if indeed it contains any ginseng at all.”
Why so little? The complaint surmises, “Over the past decade, demand for ginseng has skyrocketed while supply has dwindled, causing prices to surge above $1,000 per pound. Ginseng is so coveted in the marketplace that certain species of ginseng have been harvested to the edge of extinction.”
In other words, it is simply too expensive for them to provide a substantial dose of ginseng. The complaint claims that the product thus “does not contain enough ginseng to provide energy.” Still, the lab tests showed that competitors’ drinks from the Republic of Tea and Starbucks do contain ginseng.