Refuting Snapple’s claim that it is both “all natural” and “made from the Best Stuff on Earth,” a class-action lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court this week seeks refunds for defrauded customers and an injunction forcing Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages to alter its labeling.

The problem, laid out by the story “A Controversy Is Brewing Over Snapple Labels” in New Jersey’s Star-Ledger (requires registration to see full story), is that Snapple drinks contain high-fructose corn syrup, a man-made substance. Food scientists disagree on whether HFCS can be considered natural, and indeed, the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t yet formally defined what natural is.

Thus Snapple isn’t breaking any laws when it calls itself “all natural.” But it’s clear that the consumer pressure brought to bear by such lawsuits and the ensuing publicity can force companies to comply voluntarily. Earlier this year Kraft dropped the words all natural from the packaging of Capri Sun juice drinks, while legal action threatened by the Center for Science in the Public Interest seemingly prompted Cadbury Schweppes to change the packaging of 7UP.

Incidentally, the Jersey suit accuses Snapple of falsely labeling its acai blackberry juice drink, which contains neither acai nor blackberry juice. Oh, is that a problem? I knew that Snapple lady wasn’t to be trusted.

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