After being forced to settle a class-action lawsuit over claims that Naked Juice misrepresented its products by labeling them as “all-natural,” PepsiCo’s popular fresh juice brand will now remove all mentions of “natural” from its product labels and marketing efforts.
PepsiCo also agreed to pay $9 million after the suit claimed synthetic and genetically modified ingredients found in several of the Naked Juice products were not natural. Representatives for PepsiCo say the products are GMO-free, but the company has yet to verify that claim or seek certification through the Non-GMO Project.
Rather than reformulate its products to remove the genetically modified soy and synthetic fiber (a product made by Archer Daniels Midland) in question (which company representatives would neither confirm nor deny as being in the products), PepsiCo has opted instead to just change the labels on Naked Juice, eliminating the reference to “natural.”
Currently, there are no U.S. regulations on the term “natural” as it applies to food and beverages. Consumers can often interchange its meaning with the term “organic,” which is a USDA certified claim with strict regulations. But the World Health Organization says genetically modified ingredients, by definition, aren’t natural because they’re manufactured by food scientists and do not naturally occur.
Still, products that use the word “natural” can contain any number of synthetic and genetically modified ingredients without violating any laws. But consumers are becoming more sensitive to the claims. Similar to the Naked Juice settlement, lawsuits have also recently been brought against several multinational food manufacturers including Tropicana, ConAgra, Frito Lay and Cargill, for misuse of the term “natural.”
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