Center for Science in the Public Interest, in its fifth decade as America's premier sue-and-settle faux consumer advocacy group, is turning its highly paid lawyers and lobbyists on Pepsi - because Pepsi makes drinks with fruit, and fruit has sugar.
I have zero interest in defending Pepsi, I ridiculed them when they tried to claim aspartame was somehow harmful (1) and that if you cared about your health, you shouldn't drink Diet Coke. (2)
But CSPI's lawsuit claims the marketing for PepsiCo's Naked Juice is "misleading" because it can have more sugar than some of Pepsi's cola drinks. Who didn't know that? It's right on their labels, labels that CSPI sued and lobbied to get put in place, but Pepsi didn't create that sugar, nature did. Fruit has sugar, and an organic apple has a lot of sugar, just like a conventional one. So Pepsi is getting a consumer advocate defender in me because it isn't just their money at stake, that's their problem, it is public acceptance of non-biased science and health. Which is our ballgame.
I've long ridiculed anyone who claims buying a gigantic fruit drink in Whole Foods believing it is healthier because it contains "evaporated cane juice" (that's sugar, but Whole Foods shoppers don't want sugar, so health food marketing groups gave it a new name) is ridiculous. Fruit has sugar. Fruit is natural. It only makes sense that some marketing group would capitalize on natural claims once it became a fad - a fad promoted by anti-science groups like CSPI that successfully duped the public into a naturalistic fallacy with their never-ending war on "chemicals."
Removing the sugar from fruit would be unnatural, and natural is what CSPI has long promoted, in order to shake down companies for money, so this is ironic. Oranges are a corporate conspiracy.
I can't fault the business model, suing is why CSPI has 18X our annual revenue. It's easy, it's cheap, and Pepsi would spend more defending this in court than they could ever save winning, so they can just buy off CSPI and the law firm attached to it. To win, CSPI simply needs to allege that consumers would not have purchased Naked beverages if they knew that "no added sugar" did not mean "no sugar" (3) or low calorie. How can you argue that people would not have done something they did with a different label? That's what predatory litigators do. Get a jury involved and Pepsi could be on the hook for unlimited damages.
Since they began, CSPI's modus operandi is to be a pest until someone cuts a check (4), and the New York law firm Reese LLP is happy to get its cut.(5) Pepsi knows what is happening there and will do whatever they do, which will likely involve settling. The lawsuit seeks damages, other monetary relief, declaratory relief, and an injunction, because CSPI contends consumers believed they were buying health food - but the public won't get any healthier due to this lawsuit, it will end up being just another big ol' check for CSPI, the law firm it got to sign off on this, and then a pittance for the consumers who attached their name to it. How much money could be at stake? $50 "per violation."
We can save the public time and money regarding lots of claims from companies about 'no added sugar', 'organic', 'natural', shade-grown', 'single source' and every other marketing distinction - none of those make it a health food, and if you think it does, suing companies won't make you any smarter.
(1) In fairness, it can be harmful - if you drink 7,000 diet sodas per day.
(2)Their customers punished them a lot more for that than scientists could ever have done.
(3) The public does know that very thing, at least if they have read the American Council on Science and Health for the last 38 years.
(4) And to commission journalists with the same cultural sympathies to write hit pieces on groups they want to sue (like the entire grocery industry) or undermine (us) all while contending those writers have complete intellectual freedom, even though they are being paid specifically to produce a result. Ironically, CSPI then ironically contends if any company provides a grant, you must be a shill. It's logic so dizzying it makes Michael Pollan or other media people paid by organic corporations scratch their heads.
(5) The lawsuit says they are at 100 West 93rd. Their website says they are over a GNC in midtown. So maybe they work out of their apartments and can use the settlement to buy an office.
I have been by there about a hundred times and couldn't have told you there was a law firm in there. Maybe they are above the GNC.