Sugar By Any Other Name: Applicant’s Recent Challenge Against “Dehydrated Cane Juice Solids” Fails | Perkins Coie

Health-conscious consumers continue to challenge the sugar content of foods, including sugar appearing in other forms, such as “dehydrated cane juice solids”. But as a recent case shows, calling sugar by another name is not justifiable on its own if the product does not otherwise make sugar content claims and accurately discloses the sugar content on the Nutrition Facts panel. .

On December 3, 2021, the Eastern District of New York without prejudice to a case alleging that the defendant’s oatmeal “misled the plaintiffs into believing that the oatmeal contains only whole grains” while the product also contains “dehydrated cane juice solids”, another term for sugar, and flax seeds. The court found, first, that the plaintiffs’ claims were not preempted by federal law because “plaintiffs do not sue only for a violation of the FDCA”. But nonetheless, he held that the plaintiff’s claims would not survive the reasonable consumption standard because the defendant’s packaging was not sufficiently misleading to state a general New York business law claim. Although the product says it is “100% whole grain – 18g or more per serving”, consumers would not be misled about the sugar content because the packaging made “no representation. that oatmeal is “sugar free”, “low in sugar.” , ‘no added sugar’ or something similar. A reasonable consumer could clear up any ambiguity by looking at the back of the box, where they would see “dry extracts of dehydrated cane juice” as the second ingredient and the words “Sugar 11g” on the Nutrition Facts panel. For similar reasons, the Court also held that a reasonable consumer would not be misled about the sugar content allegedly from fruit sources because the packaging does not “carry slogans such as” contains fruit ” or “made with real fruit”. the name of the product “Oats and Flax” does not suggest fruit. And “the complainants offer no reason why a reasonable consumer would conclude that ‘cane juice’ means ‘fruit juice’.

The case is Amy Warren, et al. v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc., n ° 1: 19-cv-06448-RPK-LB (EDNY – December 3, 2021), and the opinion of the Court is available here.

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Rachel J. Bradford