As a result of a settlement with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer watchdog group, PepsiCo agreed last week to make several changes in the labeling and marketing of its Naked juices and smoothies. In October CSPI alleged that the labeling of Naked products misled consumers about their nutritional value and ingredients.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, CSPI had claimed that Naked’s labeling downplayed the role apple and orange juice play in the formulation of its Kale Blazer variety because the juices make up the majority of the beverage but do not feature in the visuals of the front label. As part of the agreement, Naked labels will now identify if a product contains only “fruit juice,” “vegetable juice,” or a mix of “fruit and veggie juice.”
Naked will also make changes to clarify its “No Sugar Added” claim, which the plaintiffs stated downplayed the juice’s high sugar content by not accounting for large amounts of natural sugar. According to the complaint, a 15 oz. bottle of Kale Blazer contains 8 teaspoons of sugar, compared to 10 teaspoons of sugar in a 12 oz. can of Pepsi. As part of the settlement, the “No Sugar Added” phrase that appears on the front of the product label will be reduced in size and include a disclaimer stating “Not a low calorie food.”
PepsiCo has up to eight months to release the updated labeling.
“We are increasingly finding that there is a mismatch between the health halo labeling and ingredients and that food producers are responding to consumer trends and interest in better health by showcasing certain ingredients and qualities when the actual content itself is lagging behind,” CSPI litigation director Maia Kats, told BevNET.
Kats praised PepsiCo’s handling of the lawsuit and willingness to work with CSPI to amend Naked labels.
“PepsiCo reached out to us after we filed the complaint, we sat down at the table immediately and had a lot of back and forth and had a very constructive dialogue,” Kats said. “It has resulted, to their credit, in a label that I now think is in the forefront of transparency for this type of product.”
In a statement, PepsiCo thanked CSPI for its amicable approach to the settlement, saying the organization demonstrated “good faith” in watching out for Naked’s consumers.
“We’re pleased to have reached this agreement,” the statement reads. “Our number one priority is always the consumer who buys our Naked juices and smoothies. When CSPI said our labels were confusing, we listened to what they had to say out of concern for our consumers. We are proud of every bottle of Naked and happy to highlight and celebrate all the goodness that’s inside. The ingredients for the entire Naked Juice beverage portfolio will remain exactly the same; only the labels will change.”