On the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that is expected to be influential in how food and beverage companies market their products, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer watchdog group, has formally threatened to sue The Campbell Soup Co. over what it believes to be misleading communication about the “juice content, nutritional value, and overall healthfulness” of Campbell’s V8 juice blends.
In a statement, CSPI wrote that while the original V8 blend is made with 100 percent juice, the brand’s V8 Splash and V8 V-Fusion contain “as little as five percent, and no more than 25 percent, fruit or vegetable juice,” yet are labeled and promoted otherwise.
“Graphically, the labels are quite similar to those of V8 products that are 100 percent juice,” CSPI said. Campbell even markets the drinks as nutritionally equivalent to fruits and vegetables, boasting about the drinks’ antioxidant content, and encouraging consumers to ‘enjoy the many benefits that come from getting the recommended servings of vegetables every day.’”
CSPI also noted that V8 Fusion products include “artificial food dyes, high-fructose corn syrup, and sometimes artificial sweeteners such as sucralose or acesulfame potassium.”
“Products like V8 Splash and V8 V Fusion Refreshers are designed to be convincing simulations of the real thing,” said CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner. “It’s an elaborate con designed to extract money from consumers who will likely think they’re getting something else.”
Additionally, CSPI stated that Campbell is in violation of federal law by claiming that its V8 V-Fusion Refreshers contains “no added sugar,” and criticizes the company for labeling V8 Splash drinks as being “an excellent source of vitamins A and C,” when much of the nutrients are added through fortification of the products. CSPI claims that consumers might be led to believe that the vitamins come from the fruits and vegetables on the label.
“In fact, the negative effects of the high sugar and liquid calorie content of Campbell’s products on consumers’ health outweigh any potential health benefits from vitamins A and C,” said CSPI.