Would you choose an energy drink characterized by the flavor or “concentrated juices of sweet potatoes”? The complaint for this class action makes allegations about V8 energy drinks, including the identity of their flavorings and the “steady” energy supposedly provided by green tea extracts.
The Nationwide Class for this action is all consumers in all states who bought any of the products at issue with actionable representations during the statutes of limitation. A similar New York State Class has also been defined.
The Campbell Soup Company’s V8 brand sells a line of energy drinks in three varieties and a number of different flavors:
Energy: The ingredient that provides the feeling of energy is caffeine. Most caffeine taken in is absorbed by the body with 45 minutes. However, it also leaves the body promptly, with 50% of it discharged within two hours. This leads to an initial feeling of high energy, alertness, and motivation, followed by a “crash” with drowsiness and fatigue.
The fronts of the cans promise “Steady Energy from Green Tea” and the marketing campaign speaks of “steady energy with no regrets.” These statements imply that those who drink these juices will enjoy the high energy without the crash. The complaint says this claim is based on “faulty science, implausible studies and consumers’ erroneous impressions…”
According to the complaint, the lack of a feeling of a crash with green tea is due to three things. First, it’s normally drunk slowly. Second, it has less caffeine per ounce. Third, it contains L-theanine, which some people believe modulates the effect of the caffeine. This is not true, the complaint says; the two substances go to different receptors, so it’s more like adding together two opposite effects.
When green tea caffeine is powdered and concentrated, the complaint asserts, the caffeine is absorbed and discharged just like caffeine from any other source. If anything, the complaint says, the green tea caffeine provides less energy, because of the opposing effect of the L-theanine.
Flavors: The complaint says that the drinks do not comply with regulations for naming drinks by their characterizing flavors. The main ingredient of all but two of the drinks is concentrated sweet potato juice, which the complaint says is an alternative to high fructose corn syrup or sugar.
Only if the sweet potato juice were “deflavored,” the complaint says, would it be proper to characterize the flavor as, say, orange pineapple or kiwi melon. And if it is deflavored, the complaint says, the nature of the modification to the sweet potato juice should be identified.
Sugars: The complaint also claims that the “No Added Sugars” claim is false.
The complaint alleges negligent misrepresentations, fraud, and violations of state consumer protection laws, among other things.