Ocean Spray CranApple Juice and CranGrape Juice have labels that claim that they contain “No High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Colors, or Flavors” but the complaint for this class action alleges that both juices do contain artificial flavors, in violation of California’s advertising and consumer protection laws.
The class for this action is all California citizens who bought the products or related products in California on or after January 1, 2011.
According to the complaint, the CranApple Juice label shows ripe apples which, along with the product’s name, imply that the juice is made from natural fruits, while in reality it contains a substance incorrectly identified in the ingredient list as “malic acid.” The complaint claims that this violates state and federal laws in three ways.
First, it is a generic name, when food labeling rules require specific, non-generic chemical names. Natural malic acid is properly identified as l-malic acid; it is found in some fruits and vegetables and has the signature flavor of apples. But the complaint alleges that the malic acid in the juice is dl-malic acid, which is not natural but made from benzene or butane.
Second, the complaint alleges that dl-malic acid is an added flavoring ingredient that simulates and reinforces the juice’s characterizing flavors, and that it is, therefore, an artificial flavoring ingredient, which California laws require be disclosed on the label.
Third, the label specifically says “No … artificial flavors” which the complaint alleges is a false claim.
Similarly, the complaint claims that CranGrape Juice is flavored with fumaric acid. While grapes contain natural fumaric acid, the complaint claims that the fumaric acid used by Ocean Spray is also artificial and derived from benzene or butane. Under California law, the label must reveal the presence of artificial flavoring ingredients.
These two juices are the products at issue in this case, but the complaint provides a list of related products that it claims also contain the artificial flavors:
According to the complaint, the juices violate California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, its Unfair Competition Law, and its False Advertising Law, and also breach express and implied warranties.