How natural does a product have to be to use the claim “all-natural”? Precedents are starting to prove that not containing GMO ingredients and preservatives is a pretty good start. As a result, PepsiCo brand Naked Juice has just agreed to discontinue its use of the term “all-natural” to describe its products on packaging and advertising and has settled the class action lawsuit against it to the tune of $9 million.
Beverage Daily reports that the idea behind the class action lawsuit, Natalie Pappas v. Naked Juice Co. of Glendora, is that a product cannot reasonably be called all-natural, 100% juice, or non-GMO when it contains ingredients like those in Naked Juice – specifically fructooligosaccharide and inulin sweeteners, Archer Daniels Midland’s Fibersol-2 corn fiber (a bulking agent), and genetically modified soy.
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While Naked Juice initially argued that current standards allow products with up to 9.0% GMO ingredients to still be labeled “non-GMO,” and continues to deny doing anything wrong, the brand has still voluntarily chosen to end the lawsuit through settlement and an agreement to remove such labels from its bottles and further advertising:
A Naked Emerging Brands spokesperson said today the brand was “pleased to have reached this agreement,” adding that it looked forward to “focusing on what we love doing best: making great-tasting, great-for-you Naked juices and smoothies from the finest and purest fruits and vegetables.
“We’re confident consumers understand this. However, until there is more detailed regulatory guidance around the word ‘natural,’ we’ve chosen not to use ‘all natural’ to describe our juices and smoothies,” the spokesperson told BeverageDaily.com.
Will more detailed regulatory guidance ever come? That much is unclear. As Beverage Daily also points out, the FDA itself is pretty wary of labeling any processed products as all-natural on principle:
“From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is natural because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. The agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.”
It seems that Naked Juice, with its man-made soy and corn fillers, has not managed to pass that test. It would be pretty hard to argue in favor of continuing to use the phrase “all natural” in that regard, and Pepsi has understood this and backed down.