Buyers Claim Coke’s Tea Not Honest About Sugar Content (subscription to Law360 required)

  • A proposed nationwide class of consumers who purchased the Honest brand of teas has sued the Coca-Cola company in New York federal court under various state laws for consumer protection, misrepresentation, breach of express and implied warranty, fraud, and unjust enrichment.  The plaintiffs allege to have purchased the teas believing the beverages were lower in calories based on front-of-label claims for “Just a Tad Sweet.”  According to the complaint, the products contain sugar as the second most predominate ingredient and are not “a tad sweet” or low in sugar.
  • As we reported last week, the “Just a Tad Sweet” claim was noted in a January 9, 2020 letter sent by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) at FDA, urging the Agency to “take immediate enforcement action to prevent unauthorized implied ‘low sugar’ and ‘reduced sugar’ claims.  According to CSPI, and as alleged in the proposed class action against Coca-Cola, claims such as this expressly or implicitly characterize the level of sugar and are therefore prohibited under federal law because “low sugar” is not a defined or permitted nutrient content claim.
  • It is yet to be seen how Coca-Cola will respond.  In a recently settled class action lawsuit over use of the label claims “lightly sweetened,” “healthy,” “nutritious,” and “wholesome,” on select cereals, Kellogg stated that it had never advertised the cereals as “low sugar” or “reduced sugar,” and that the sugar content was clearly listed on each product’s Nutrition Facts Panel but settled the class action lawsuit for $20 million.