LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – Two drink companies who were sued for allegedly misusing their "no sugar added" labels have had their motions to dismiss the cases denied.
Both motions were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and denied about one week apart.
Odwalla Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co. filed a motion to dismiss after Stephen Wilson filed a lawsuit against the entities, claiming the label of "no sugar added" on Odwalla's 100 percent juice products is mislabeled because it violates the Title 21 Federal food labeling code, which states that a "no sugar added" label cannot be used unless “[t]he food that [the product] resembles and for which it substitutes normally contains added sugars.”
Wilson argued that Odwalla 100 percent juices do not resemble and substitute foods that usually contain added sugars, and that this is misleading because the "no sugar added" label persuaded him to purchase it. He said that had the juice not made that claim, he either would have paid less for it or not bought it at all.
Wilson claimed Odwalla violated the Unfair Competition Law, the False Advertising Law, and the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act.
Odwalla argued that its labeling complies with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations because its juices resemble and are a substitute for “noncarbonated drinks containing any amount of fruit juice.”
The court on June 28 stated that Odwalla did not convince the court that the “FDA views comparison juice products broadly.” The court added that the defendants "have failed to establish that the [juice in question] 'normally contains added sugars.'"
ZICO Beverages filed its motion to dismiss in May, after Carlos Barrios filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming mislabeling of "no sugar added" on ZICO's 100 Percent Coconut Water, Legal Newsline previously reported. The lawsuit claimed ZICO made the same violations as Odwalla.
“ZICO cannot use the 'No Sugar Added' label because ZICO Coconut Water 'does not resemble and substitute for a food that normally contains added sugars, including, without limitation, pure, or 100 percent, orange juice,'” Barrios claimed in the suit.
ZICO argued in their motion to dismiss that their product complied with FDA regulations and is correct, with coconut water being its only ingredient, and that the "no sugar added" label is "literally true based on the very ingredients identified in the FDCA [Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act]-compliant label.”
The district court filed the denial of ZICO's motion to dismiss on July 3, stating that it was denied for the same reasons it denied Odwalla's motion to dismiss.