A proposed class action lawsuit against Odwalla and The Coca-Cola Company has been given the go-ahead from a California federal judge. The suit alleges that the company misled consumers by claiming that Odwalla products do not contain sugar.According to Law 360, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers sided with plaintiffs who allege that Odwalla's use of the term "evaporated cane juice" instead of "cane sugar" on its labels was in violation of federal regulations. The suit argues that evaporated cane juice is the same as cane sugar – or sucrose, in other words.
The suit was originally filed in 2013, but was held off on after the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) said it would conduct a probe into evaporated cane juice labeling. The FDA issued a final guidance in May stating that the ingredient known as evaporated cane juice should be called "sugar" on labels.
The use of the term evaporated cane juice in lieu of sugar or cane sugar has been the question at the center of various lawsuits against various food manufacturers. Plaintiffs allege that manufacturers use the term because it sounds healthier and leads consumers to believe that there are no added sugars in products.
Food companies, however, say the term is more acccurate and clearly distinguishes it from regular white refined sugar. Manufacturers say it is processed differently and therefore should be described differently on labels.
Odwalla isn't the only juice brand to come under fire over sugar claims made on labels. A class action lawsuit was filed against PepsiCo's Naked Juice in October by The Center for Science in the Public Interest. The advocacy group claims statements such as "no sugar added" and "only the best ingredients" on labels leads consumers to believe that the products are healthier than they actually are.