Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Nutritionals
CSPI's litigation team, on behalf of three California consumers, has filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Northern California against McNeil Nutritionals, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, for its Splenda Essentials product line.
Splenda Essentials is a higher-priced line of the no-calorie artificial sweetener sucralose that is fortified either with B vitamins, antioxidants, or fiber. CSPI alleges that the fortifications "are designed to give the impression that Splenda Essentials will help one lose weight, avoid disease, or confer other health benefits." In fact, an online survey found that up to 68 percent of 1,014 respondents formed incorrect perceptions of Splenda Essentials' potential benefits after being exposed to packaging or advertisements for each of the products. CSPI contends that the products' labeling and marketing are in violation of California's consumer protection laws. "It's ridiculous—but apparently profitable—to claim that bulking up Splenda with vitamins or powdered fiber is going to make it a magical health food," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI. "It's an artificial sweetener, not pixie dust." The lawsuit seeks restitution to consumers and disgorgement of profits from the product line, as well as injunctive relief prohibiting the company from "continuing its deceptive labeling and marketing." 8/12
Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Nutritionals filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but the Court rejected the motion and the case is proceeding. 6/13