Source - Food & Beverage Litigation Update | Issue 751

Court Dismisses Mott’s “Natural” Juice Lawsuit

A California federal court has dismissed a putative class action alleging that Mott’s apple juices and applesauce are not “natural” as marketed because they contain trace amounts of pesticides. Yu v. Dr Pepper Snapple Grp. Inc., No. 18-6664 (N.D. Cal, entered October 6, 2020). The complaint was previously dismissed without prejudice, and the amended version contained the “same five causes of action” but “added two generic surveys to the allegations.”

The court examined the additional surveys but was unconvinced that they provided enough support to allow the case to move forward. “The 2015 Consumer Reports Survey arguably undermines, rather than supports, Plaintiff’s argument about the reasonable consumer’s interpretation of the word ‘natural,'” the court held. “It states, ‘Consumers were asked about their perception of the natural and organic labels. The organic food label is meaningful, is backed by federal regulations, and verified by third-party inspections; the natural label, however, is essentially meaningless (little regulation/verification).’ [] Assuming all fact assertions are true, as the Court must, the Court finds this survey does not help plaintiff allege a plausible claim.” The second piece of submitted evidence, a 2019 study conducted for the Corn Refiners Association, was “tangentially related to Plaintiff’s claims, at best,” the court held. Accordingly, the court dismissed the claims without leave to amend.

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