• The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of Odwalla, in Wilson v. Odwalla Inc. et al. (Case Number 2:17-cv-02763).  Odwalla, which is owned by Coca-Cola, had been subjected to class action challenge based on a “no added sugar” claim on 100% juice products.
  • In March 2017, Plaintiffs alleged that the “no added sugar” claim violated state consumer protection and false advertising laws, in addition to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  The court disagreed, basing its decision on a letter obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), in which an FDA official (Douglas Balentine, Director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition) interpreted the meaning of 21 CFR 101.60 (“Nutrient content claims for the calorie content of foods”), paragraph (c)(2)(iv).  That paragraph prohibits “no sugar added” claims unless “the food that it resembles and for which it substitutes normally contains added sugars.”
  • Both parties presented arguments that the court found reasonable, but the judge determined that the FDA letter, interpreting Section 101.60(c)(2)(iv) as permitting juice with no added sugar to be considered a substitute for juice with added sugar and similar sugar-sweetened beverages, was entitled to deference.  It is curious that the court deferred to an FDA position taken in an informal letter, as opposed to notice-and-comment rulemaking.