(CN) - Naked Juice sold its consumers a bill of goods, fraudulently promising that its beverage products are "100% juice," "all natural," and "non-GMO," a federal class action claims in Los Angeles.
The plaintiffs contend that Naked Juice, intentionally uses misleading language to give consumers "the false impression that the beverages vitamin content is due to the nutritious fruits and juices, rather than the added synthetic compounds such as calcium pantothenate (synthetically produced from formaldehyde)" and "Fibersol-2 (a proprietary synthetic digestion-resistant fiber produced by Archer Daniels Midland and developed by a Japanese chemical company), fructooligosaccharides (a synthetic fiber and sweetener) and inulin (an artificial and invisible fiber added to foods to ... increase fiber content without the typical fiber mouth-feel)."
The amounts of synthetic substances added is "substantial" according to the plaintiffs who cite as an example that "there is more Fibersol-2 than ... any ingredient derived from blackberries" in Naked Juice's Blue Machine drink which is labeled as an "all-natural blueberry and blackberry 100 percent Juice Smoothie."
Sara Sandys of Houston, Texas is the lead plaintiff in the suit and says that she and other members of the class relied on Naked Juice's representations that the drinks were 100 percent juice and all natural when she regularly drank the company's products.
She cites an article from the October 2007 edition of "Beverage Industry", in which Naked Juice appears to agree that the words on its label are important.
The article quotes the former General Manager of Naked Juice, Adam Carr, explaining how and why a consumer purchases a Naked Juice Product:
"They take a bottle of Naked Juice off the shelf and start reading the packaging. One the front of the bottle, in addition to seeing the name of the product, they see the family name, the '100 percent juice smoothie' and 'no sugar added' tags, and Naked Juice's Pound Promise of 'a pound of fruit in every bottle'. Then consumers can rotate the bottle around and see the list of fruits that are inside and see the functional benefits a product boasts"
The side list of fruits serves as an "alternate ingredient list" the suit says and because it is printed several times larger than the actual ingredients, "It is the list that [Naked Juice] intend consumers read and rely upon."
The suit says that "almost all soy products are now genetically modified" and thus Naked Juice knows that genetically modified - or genetically engineered - organisms must be in its juices "by design or by contamination."
The suit alleges that 11 synthetically derived substances - including niacinamide, d-alpha tocopherol acetate, cyanocobalamin, and pyridoxine hydrochloride - are contained in Naked Juice drinks which it says belie the label's claims that the beverage contains only the "freshest, purest stuff in the world."
The class asks for compensatory and punitive damages as well as an injunction against Naked Juice stating that its products are 100 percent juice, are all natural and that they contain no genetically modified organisms.
Sara Sandys and the class are represented by Yvette Golan in Houston, Texas, and Shirish Gupta of Flashpoint Law in San Mateo, Calif.