Capri Sun juice has yet another consumer lawsuit. This one concerns false advertising/mislabeling of their apple juice. The Big Food manufacturer Kraft Heinz Foods Company labels their Capri Sun Apple Juice as “all natural” but as the lawsuit argues, the juice contains an industrialized (natural ingredient that is altered in a laboratory with synthetic ingredients) food additive. The food additive in question is “citric acid” which is commonly used in U.S. processed foods as a preservative*.
The lawsuit argues that Kraft Heinz Foods Company is “misleading consumers by marketing Capri Sun apple juice as all natural and free of synthetic additives when it contains citric acid, an artificial preservative.”** More specifically, the lawsuit argues that the apple juice is promoted as containing “All Natural Ingredients” and “No Artificial Colors, Flavors or Preservatives”—phrases with increasing appeal among shoppers because of the belief that “free from” foods are healthier”. Further, the lawsuit argues that “despite the presence of an artificial additive in its apple juice, Kraft Heinz structured its marketing to capitalize on consumers’ desire and willingness to pay more for products made with natural ingredients and without preservatives”.
This particular lawsuit may not be a slam-dunk as citric acid begins as a natural ingredient, before it is industrialized (synthetically altered in a laboratory). Therefore, it is not officially an “artificial” or synthetic ingredient. So this is a matter of semantics–a game that Big Food has played for decades, and one in which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has historically turned a blind eye. And secondly, Kraft Heinz Foods Company states on the label that the citric acid is used for “tartness”, not as a preservative***. It may be challenging to prove in a court of law that the Big Food manufacturer is actually using the citric acid as a bacterial retardant/preservative and not to alter the flavor.
*Citric acid is commonly used as a preservative in food products because it increases acidity levels, which prevents the growth of microbial organisms and therefore food spoilage.
**The lawsuit argues that although the production of citric acid begins with the fermentation of natural ingredients and uses a natural fermentation process, the “multiple chemical reactions, synthetic mineral salts and synthetic reagents required for extracting citric acid mean it is not a natural preservative, but an artificial one.”
***The lawsuit argues that “by law, foods with chemical preservatives like citric acid must include in their ingredients list a description of the preservative’s function (e.g., “to retard spoilage” or “to help protect flavor”). The description listed next to citric acid on the Capri Sun apple juice product, however, reads “for tartness,” which leads consumers to believe the citric acid merely affects flavor rather than chemically acting against decay, the filing alleges.”
This is a class action lawsuit. Consumers residing in New York, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina and Utah who purchased Capri Sun-brand apple juice during the statute of limitations may be eligible to be a part of the lawsuit.
EXCERPT from our book, The Food Hacker’s Handbook
Where Found: This industrialized food additive (not to be confused with the naturally occurring version) is made from the mold Aspergillus Niger. It is used as a preservative, antioxidant, and acidifier, and can be commonly found in salad dressings, baked goods, crackers, pasta, processed dairy products and cheeses, margarine, dried fruit, fruit juice, sports drinks, coffees, teas, soda, canned fruit (incl.canned tomatoes/tomato sauce), canned vegetables, condiments (incl.
pickles, relish, mayonnaise), jams, jellies, confectionery, chocolate, desserts, frozen meals, processed meats, and snack foods. May be a non-declared food additive—not listed on the label.
Red Flags: Some people may have allergic reactions to this additive—esp. those who are sensitive to molds, yeast, and/or corn. Adverse reactions range from mild to severe and may include skin reactions (including itching, hives, rash), edema (and subsequent weight gain), sore throat, swelling of tongue, mouth, face, throat, digestive problems (including pain, bloating, diarrhea), mouth ulcers, headaches, agitation, insomnia. Note: Citric acid is an industrialized food additive,
commercially produced typically using glucose and hydrolyzed cornstarch, and as such may contain genetically modified organisms (GMO). Also a known hidden source of gluten which can trigger serious adverse reactions in people with certain autoimmune disorders. Additionally, during industrialized processing of this additive the remaining protein is hydrolyzed and may result in some processed free glutamic (MSG). [See “MSG/Monosodium Glutamate”] ©