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Odwalla 'no added sugar' case to go to private mediation

Odwalla 'no added sugar' case to go to private mediation

A California court has ordered Odwalla and a proposed class of consumers into private mediation to resolve a dispute over 'no added sugar' claims on 100% juice products.

In a July 10 order, US District Judge Dale Fischer sent the case to private mediation* to be completed no later than June 26, 2018.

In the lawsuit**– filed in California in April - plaintiff Stephen Wilson argued that ‘no added sugar’ claims on Odwalla’s 100% juices were misleading as they implied that 100% juice products typically contained added sugar (they don’t).

According to FDA regulations (click HERE), even if it is technically true that there is no added sugar in your food or beverage, said Wilson, you can only make ‘no added sugar’ claims on your product if “the food that it resembles and for which it substitutes normally contains added sugars.”

As 100% fruit juices do not normally contain added sugars, Odwalla (which is owned by Coca-Cola) is violating federal law and breaching California’s consumer protection laws (which mirror federal law), he argued.

Odwalla, however, argued that the issue is not black and white, and that its 100% juices should be compared with all “non-carbonated drinks containing any amount of fruit juice," which often contain added sugar.

In a June 28 memo, judge Fischer acknowledged that the different parties each defined the category Odwalla's 100% juices operate in differently, but said that, “Even if Wilson’s definition [100% juice] is too narrow, defendants have not convinced the court that their definition [all juice drinks] is correct and mandates dismissal.”   

Read more about the case and get expert legal commentary HERE.

*Under the ADR (alternative dispute resolution) procedure of the central district of California.

**The case is Stephen Wilson et al v Odwalla Inc et al 2:17-cv-02763 in the central district of California.

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