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Supreme Court hears arguments on juice labeling suit

U. S. Supreme Court hears arguments about food labeling laws.
U. S. Supreme Court hears arguments about food labeling laws.
Photo by: By Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

On April 21 the U. S. Supreme Court heard argument about whether or not complying with FDA labeling regulations will exempt a company for false advertising claims.

Coca Cola markets a drink called Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of Five Juices as part of their Minute Maid line of beverages.. Pomegranate Blueberry is displayed prominently, including pictures of these fruits on the label. The line "Flavored Blend of Five Juices " is displayed much smaller.

Competitor Pom Wonderful brought a suit saying that the label was misleading. They argued that the label led people to believe the product consisted of mainly pomegranate and blueberry juices, which isn't the case.

Kathleen Sullivan, an attorney arguing for Coca Cola stated that "we don't think that consumers are quite as unitelligent as Pom must think they are. Justice Anthony Kennedy replied "Don't make me feel bad because I thought this is pomegranate juice.

Seth Waxman, attorney for Pom Wonderful stated that Justice Kennedy was not the only one to think the drink was pomegranate juice. "The evidence showss that over a third of consumers who look at the label believe that pomegranat and blueberry, juice, in fact, are the majority juices."

However, the amount of these juices amount to about a teaspoon in a half gallon. Pomegranate juice makes up 0.3 percent of the drink, while blueberry makes up only 0.2 percent. The majority of the drink is made up of apple and grape juices.

Kathleen Sullivan, New York based lawyer argued April 21 before the Supreme Court that the label is in line with regulations by FDA, so Coke can't be sued.

“I don’t know why it’s impossible to have a label that fully complies with FDA regulations and also happens to be misleading on the entirely different question of commercial competition, consumer confusion that has nothing to do with health,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said.

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