Woman Sues Jelly Bean Company over Misleading Sugar Ingredients

A woman from San Bernardino, California has sued jelly bean maker Jelly Belly, claiming she didn’t know sugar was one of the ingredients in their “Sports Beans.” Jessica Gomez alleges that Jelly Belly was trying to “trick” her into believing Jelly Belly Sports Beans didn’t contain sugar through its use of “fancy phrasing.” [1]

Marketed as an exercise supplement, Jelly Belly Sports Beans list “evaporated cane juice” instead of sugar as an ingredient. This is the “fancy language” Gomez eludes to in the suit. The beans’ nutrition label does list the product’s sugar grams correctly.

The Jelly Belly website lists “cane sugar” on its ingredient list and says that 1 serving contains 19 grams of sugar. [2]

The lawsuit further alleges that Jelly Beans misleads buyers by claiming that Sports Beans contain carbohydrates, electrolytes, and vitamins as a way of attracting athletes to buy the products.

Gomez is suing Jelly Belly for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and product liability.

At face value, the lawsuit might sound frivolous and silly, but consider this: In May 2016, the FDA announced that “sweeteners derived from sugar cane should not be declared on food labels as ‘evaporated can juice.’” The agency claims the term is misleading and makes it appear that the ingredient is a fruit or vegetable, not a sugar. [1]

The FDA went on to encourage food companies to relabel products from “evaporated cane juice” to sugar to be more truthful and “distinguish the ingredient from other cane-based sweeteners.”

According to the agency, the guidelines are not legally-binding, but attorneys regularly cite them in court cases that accuse food companies of deceiving buyers with euphemisms for sugar on labels.

An attorney representing Gomez wrote in a letter to Jelly Belly:

“The term ‘evaporated cane juice’ is false or misleading because it suggests that the sweetener is ‘juice’ or is made from ‘juice’ and does not reveal that its basic nature and characterizing properties are those of sugar.” [1]

In April 2017, Jelly Belly filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, calling it “nonsense.” The company says the “plaintiff does not explain why an athlete – or anyone – would be surprised to find sugar in a product described as ‘Jelly Beans.’”

In a 2014 blog post, Marion Nestle, an author and professor of nutrition, wrote that:

“evaporated cane juice is the food industry’s latest attempt to convince you that … it is natural and healthy, better for you than table sugar and much better for you than high fructose corn syrup.’” [2]

Source: Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation

Food companies have come up with euphemisms for high fructose corn syrup as well, an ingredient potentially linked to reduced life span and reproductive problems, among other health complications. According to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), many food companies have started listing the health-ravaging ingredient as “HFCS-90,” which is 90% pure fructose.

The group explains:

 “A third product, HFCS-90, is sometimes used in natural and ‘light’ foods, where very little is needed to provide sweetness. Syrups with 90% fructose will not state high fructose corn syrup on the label [anymore], they will state ‘fructose’ or ‘fructose syrup’.”

In light of food companies’ attempts to hide the true unhealthy nature of many of their products, and even the FDA’s past comment on such ingredients, Gomez’s lawsuit might not be as frivolous as it seems. What do you think?


[1] Newsmax

[2] The Huffington Post

Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation

Storable Food

Lawsuit Accuses Monsanto of Hiring Online Trolls to Attack Critics

A recent lawsuit accuses biotech giant Monsanto of hiring an army of online trolls to attack critics of their glyphosate-based herbicide, RoundUp. [1]

The allegations came to light after a judge for the U.S. district court in San Diego ruled that pretrial documents from 50 pending lawsuits against Monsanto could be released.

The plaintiffs in the cases allege that exposure to RoundUp caused them or loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, while the company hid the risks. The company behind such wholesome substances as Agent Orange (or the “former Monsanto Company,” in this case) even started a program, titled “Let Nothing Go” to leave nothing – not even Facebook comments – unanswered, according to the suit.

Let’s break down some of the plaintiffs’ other allegations:

  • Monsanto pays people to pose as “regular” citizens with no industry ties to post positive comments aimed at defending the company and its products on news articles and Facebook posts. [2]
  • The company silently funnels money to think tanks, like the Genetic Literacy Project and the American Council on Science and Health – organizations intended to shame scientists and highlight information beneficial to Monsanto and other chemical producers. The plaintiffs’ attorneys note that similar methods were used by tobacco companies in the past.
  • Monsanto uses ghostwriters to author its scientific papers using language favorable to the company. This particular allegation is backed up by a batch of e-mails. Monsanto VP of global strategy told Science that ghostwriting was an “unfortunate” term and “an inappropriate way to refer to the collaborative scientific engagement that went on here.”

Read: EPA Official Accused of Helping Monsanto “Kill” Glyphosate-Cancer Link

One of the e-mails reads:

“A less expensive/more palatable approach might be to involve experts only for the areas of contention, epidemiology and possibly MOA (depending on what comes out of the IARC meeting), and we ghost-write the Exposure Tox & Genetox sections.

An option would be to add Greim and Kier or Kirkland to have their names on the publication, but we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak. Recall that is how we handled Williams Kroes & Munro, 2000.” [3]

Monsanto took a famous, but failed, stab at silencing “bad” science in March 2015, when the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate “probably carcinogenic.” The chemicals and GMO company immediately hit back, calling the report “biased” and demanding that it be retracted.

Source: Columbia Science Review

We here at Natural Society have had more than a little bit of experience with biotech trolls. We even have our own “lounge lizard” hanging in the comments. =]


[1] Grub Street

[2] U.S. District Court – Northern District of California. Case No. 16-md-02741-VC

[3] RT

Columbia Science Review

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