Truvia, the sugar alternative made from the stevia plant, has landed parent company Cargill in court in the latest complaint against companies misusing the term "natural" on foods that are highly refined.
The class-action lawsuit was filed in Hawaii by plaintiff Denise Howerton and says that Cargill is misleading its customers with Truvia, which contains Reb-A steviol glycosides that are "highly chemical processed." The product also includes a bulking agent called erythritol, which is synthetically produced, reports Food Navigator.
Truvia is made from the stevia leaf—a plant regarded for its intense sweetness without calories or high glycemic content. But Truvia is a highly refined product, with heavy extraction and processing methods employed in production, making the end product considerably less natural than the company claims.
According to Food Navigator, Howerton claims that Cargill "describes the process of obtaining stevia leaf extract as similar to making tea, but does not tell the consumer that Cargill then adds ethanol, methanol, or rubbing alcohol to this so-called 'tea' in a patented multi step process to purify it…"
"Reb-A is not the natural crude preparation of stevia but rather is a highly chemically processed and purified form of stevia leaf extract."
A 2012 lawsuit against Jamba Juice also targeted the unnatural production of stevia, an ingredient in the brand's "all-natural" smoothie kits.
Howerton's suit is one of many recent cases brought against food manufacturers for misuse of the term "natural." Pepsi's Naked Juice brand just settled a similar case for $9 million and has to remove natural claims from its products and marketing.
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