The Center for Science in the Public’s Interest (CSPI) has filed a class action lawsuit against Jamba Juice in a Northern District of California federal court, claiming its marketing is tricking consumer into believing its beverages are ‘whole fruit and vegetable smoothies’. CSPI is seeking unspecified damages.
Whole Fruit … and 95 Grams of Sugar
Plaintiffs allege that Jamba Juice sells premium priced smoothies that use cheap pear and white grape juice from concentrate, but market them with such slogans as ‘Jamba blends whole fruits and veggies’ and ‘Whole fruit! That’s how we blend’. In addition to using these high sugar concentrates, they also use sugar-ladened sorbets and other juice blends, in which fruit is not in the top five ingredients of the product.
For instance, in a Caribbean Passion Smoothie, the menu board claims there is mango, strawberry, peach, orange and passion fruit. But the only actual fruit blended in are strawberries and peaches. A large Caribbean Passion Smoothie has 95 grams, or about 24 teaspoons, of sugar. There’s more in there than whole fruit.
Jamba Juice and the Art of Deception
To prevail, CSPI will have to prove that Jamba Juice is being misleading in its advertisements by deceptively marketing its juices as containing “whole” or “real” ingredients. Under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act, advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive, backed up with evidence, and fair. CSPI will focus on the non-deceptive requirement with respect to Jamba Juice. CSPI has used similar tactics to get reformulations in such products as Naked Juices, Plum Organics baby food, and a version of Cheerios.
In March 2018, Jamba Juice did settle a similar class action lawsuit brought against it in California over the use of ‘all-natural’ in its smoothie kits, sold at grocery stores. The kits contained such unnatural ingredients as ascorbic acid, xanthan gum, steviol glycosides, modified corn starch, and gelatin. Though admitting no liability and paying no damages, it did stop using the term ‘all-natural’ to describe the kits. CSPI is probably looking for a similar outcome with the in-store version of their smoothies.
If you feel that there are deceptive consumer advertisements targeting you, contact a local consumer protection attorney to see if you can work together to make a difference in advertising and product formulations.