Monster Settles Class Action Over ‘Natural’ Claims
Monster Energy has agreed to pay up to $3 million in a class action settlement, ending a lawsuit which alleged that its Hansen’s juice and Hubert’s lemonade lines made claims of being ‘natural’ despite containing artificial ingredients.
The suit was filed in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego. According to a press release by class action administrator CPT Group, Monster denies all claims and liability but has settled in order to avoid further expense and inconvenience.
Consumers with proof of purchase who bought Hansen’s Natural Juices or Hansen’s Smoothie Nectars in California between June 19, 2010 and June 12, 2015 or who purchased Hubert’s Lemonades or Hubert’s Half & Half Lemonade Teas in California between June 19, 2010 and January 1, 2014, are eligible for a cash reimbursement up to $15 as part of the settlement.
The ruling highlights the increasingly disparate definition of the term “natural” on food and beverage products.
Food Dive noted similarities between this case and a 2014 class action against General Mills, which took aim at the latter’s Nature Valley line, in which the court ruled the company could not call any product containing high-fructose corn syrup or malodextrin “natural.”
Monster has not yet returned a request for comment.
Canada Dry Targeted in Class Action Suit
Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) has been named in a class action lawsuit alleging that Canada Dry Ginger Ale’s “Made from Real Ginger” claims are misleading, as the product contains “a miniscule” amount of ginger flavor extract — less than two parts per million in the finished beverage, according to court documents.
The suit was filed in the District Court of Dallas County in Texas on July 5. According to the petition, plaintiff Janet Childers alleges that Canada Dry’s ginger flavor extract is not “real ginger,” but is instead made primarily in a lab using chemicals and an extraction process that results in a “microscopic amount of ginger flavor extract.” The suit also claims that within six months of DPS adding the “Made from Real Ginger” claim to Canada Dry’s packaging, sales volume shot up by 8.5 percent, compared to 1.4 percent growth the previous year, and continued to rise annually thereafter.
The petition also cites internal marketing materials made public by DPS during a similar class action lawsuit against Canada Dry filed in California. The documents allegedly state that in mid-2007, DPS made a decision to reposition Canada Dry as a better-for-you alternative to other sodas on the market and emphasizing ginger would trigger “positive health perception with consumers.”
“[DPS’s] ‘vision’ for Canada Dry was ‘to redefine what a CSD can be by delivering great taste and long term health benefits,’” the petition states. “Its ‘target’ for Canada Dry would be the ‘healthy and wise consumer’ who wanted to ‘embrace making healthy choices in everything they do.’ These were not consumers who were looking for a cure-all or to abandon unhealthy products altogether, but consumers who would ‘choose products that are the best fit for the healthy lifestyle even in ‘unhealthy’ categories.’”
Internal research conducted by DPS, however, showed that nearly two-thirds of consumers did not believe ginger ale brands on the market contained real ginger. Rather than reformulating the product and risking a drop in sales, the company opted to focus on telling “a ginger story” and introduced the “Made from Real Ginger” label in July 2009, according to the complaint. The suit alleges that Canada Dry deliberately misled consumers through subsequent advertisements highlighting real ginger as an ingredient.
The class action suit covers all consumers who purchased Canada Dry in Texas from July 5, 2014 to the present. The plaintiffs are seeking financial damages and for DPS to cease using the “Made from Real Ginger” label on Canada Dry Ginger Ale.
According to the District Court of Dallas County website, the case is being represented by attorney Craig D. Cherry of Waco-based law firm Haley Olsen. A call to Cherry by BevNET was not returned.
DPS, which recently closed on its merger with Keurig Green Mountain to become Keurig Dr Pepper, did not return a request for comment from BevNET.