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Tropicana “Essential Probiotics” Fruit Drinks Misrepresentation Class Action

Two Sizes of Tropicana's "Essential Probiotics" Juice

Does taking probiotics make you healthier? Is juice an appropriate way to take in probiotics? The complaint for this class action says no, taking issue with Tropicana Products, Inc.’s product line of “Essential Probiotics” fruit juices.

Two classes have been proposed for this action. The Nationwide Class is consumers in all US states who bought any products with actionable representations during the statutes of limitations. The other class is a New York Class, for those who bought the products in New York State. 

The products come in 10-ounce and 32-ounce bottles in Orchard Green, Pineapple Mango, Strawberry Banana, and Peach Passion Fruit flavors. 

The complaint begins by taking issue with the term “essential” which is used adjacent to the term “probiotics.” The complaint argues that this gives consumers the false impression that it is essential to ingest certain probiotics, in the same way it’s essential to ingest certain vitamins, minerals, or nutrients, or that it’s essential to ingest certain amounts of probiotics, although no such standards exist.

In turn, the complaint claims, this gives the impression that the juices are healthy, which is misleading when in fact they contain between 27 and 37 grams of sugar per serving, nearly as much as contained in a can of Pepsi (41 grams). 

The complaint claims, “The term ‘probiotic’ implies a health benefit” and “represents that probiotics are present in a significant quantity such that they will have a beneficial restorative, ameliorative, nutritional or physiological effect, when this is literally false.” It adds, “In reality, probiotics in the Products are of no demonstrated value, especially to persons who are not suffering from a digestive or other illness.”

The complaint looks at two meta-analyses of the benefits of probiotics. The first was a meta-analysis of fourteen meta-analyses and concluded that evidence that probiotics conferred any benefit was insufficient. The second considered 1287 studies but found that only seven of them were of medium to high quality, and those found no differences between probiotics and placebo. 

While the complaint claims that the elderly or those with digestive problems may benefit from probiotics, no benefit has been shown to normal, healthy, non-elderly subjects.

Furthermore, the complaint claims that studies usually show the benefits of probiotics conveyed in milk products and that these have no bearing on the benefits of probiotics conveyed in fruit juices “since this product’s naturally no pH makes survival difficult.”

The complaint claims violations of New York’s General Business Law, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breaches of warranties, and unjust enrichment.

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