The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has informed the CEO of Campbell Soup Co. that it will seek injunctive and monetary relief if the company continues to (i) “mislead consumers about the juice content, nutritional value, and healthfulness of its Products”; (ii) “represent that its V8 V-Fusion Refreshers contain no added sugars”; and (iii) mak[e] deceptive nutrient content claims on its V8 Splash Products in violation of United States Food and Drug Administration’s (‘FDA’) Fortification rule.”
At issue are products from the V8 V-Fusion Refreshers (20-25% juice) variety of the V8 V-Fusion product line and the entire line of V8 Splash juice drink products, including V8 Splash (5-10% juice), Diet V8 Splash (8% juice) and V8 Splash Smoothies (10% juice). CSPI characterizes these products as “sugary juice cocktails.”
According to CSPI, the marketing and labeling for these products are confusingly similar to V8 100-percent juice products for which Campbell “has built a trusted reputation and nutritious ‘health halo’” despite their high sodium content and the lack of equivalence between consuming vegetable juice and “real vegetables.” The food advocacy group claims that Campbell implies that the V8 V-Fusion and V8 Splash products, with prominent nutrientcontent claims and fruit and vegetable depictions on product labels, are equally healthy when they are actually fruit/vegetable juice cocktails that contain mostly water, artificial food dyes, high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, added sugars, and/or a low percentage of juice. Any vitamins are added, according to CSPI, and their low levels “are unlikely to provide any of Campbell’s claimed health benefits.”
CSPI claims that Campbell falsely represents that its V8 V-Fusion line of products has no added sugar, because the V8 V-Fusion Refreshers do have added sugar. It claims that this representation violates federal law. 21 C.F.R. 101.60(c) (iii)(B)(2)(1). The group also claims that the fortification of V8 Splash products violates FDA’s Fortification rule, which “bans the addition of nutrients to nutritionally void or harmful beverages.” CSPI contends that the V8 Splash products consist mostly of water and high-fructose corn syrup, and thus the company cannot fortify them by adding vitamins and then claiming they are “an excellent source of vitamins A and C.”
In closing, CSPI claims that a consumer injury occurs “each time a consumer sees marketing for, or purchases, one of these Products.” It warns that litigation for permanent injunctive relief and disgorgement will ensue if Campbell chooses not to respond to CSPI’s findings. The letter specifically refers to the laws of California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Texas, implying that litigation could be filed in these jurisdictions or jurisdictions with similar consumer-protection laws.