A California recently indicated he would stay a putative class action raising allegations about labeling of “evaporated cane juice” pending a decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on sweetener labeling. See Jennifer Shaouli v. Reed’s Inc., No.BC534738 (Sup. Ct. Los Angeles, Cal.). The 2014 complaint can be found at 2014 WL 533701, and alleges various juice products, including defendant's Hibiscus Ginger Grapefruit, Cranberry Ginger, Lemon Ginger Raspberry, Pomegranate Ginger, Coconut Water Lime, Passion Mango Ginger, and Cabernet Grape, were labeled misleadingly because they allegedly list “organic evaporated cane juice” as an ingredient.
The Food and Drug Administration reopened the comment period on its draft guidance for industry on declaring "evaporated cane juice" as an ingredient on food labels. The agency originally published the draft guidance in October of 2009 and accepted comments through early December of that year. FDA reopened the comment period to obtain additional data and information to better understand the basic nature and characterizing properties of the ingredient, the methods of producing it, and the differences between this ingredient and other sweeteners.
The FDA is still mulling the new comments. And the court wisely decided it made little sense to proceed with the proposed class action until hearing from the FDA. Among the issues FDA is considering is whether the name “evaporated cane juice” adequately conveys the basic nature of the food and its characterizing properties or ingredients.