Proposed “All Natural” Class Action Targets Pepsi’s Pure Leaf® Iced Tea

A consumer has filed a putative class action against Unilever U.S., PepsiCo and the Pepsi Lipton Tea Partnership alleging that their line of Pure Leaf® Iced Teas are misleadingly labeled as “All Natural” and preservative-free because they contain citric acid, a synthetic ingredient. Ren v. Unilever U.S., Inc., No. 156463/2015 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., filed June 26, 2015). The complaint asserts that Pure Leaf® labels indicate that the products are natural and contain no preservatives despite containing citric acid, which is “industrially manufactured by fermenting certain genetically mutant strains of the black mold fungus, Aspergillus niger.” The companies use citric acid as a preservative, the complaint argues, and it disputes the accuracy of a note in the ingredient list explaining that citric acid provides tartness. The plaintiff seeks class certification, declaratory judgments, damages, restitution, an injunction, and attorney’s fees for allegations of unjust enrichment, breach of warranties, negligent misrepresentation and violations of the New York General Business Law.

Read more in Issue 571 of the Food & Beverage Litigation Update.

This week’s issue also includes articles discussing:

  • FDA’s decision to extend the date for compliance with its calorie-disclosure rule for restaurants and similar retail food venues;
  • Diageo Great Britain’s intention to appeal an adverse U.K. Advertising Standards Authority ruling involving a TV ad for Smirnoff® vodka;
  • a putative class action against Unilever and PepsiCo alleging that their line of Pure Leaf® Iced Teas are misleadingly labeled as “All Natural” because they contain citric acid;
  • a new report claiming that the food industry covertly manipulates public discourse; and
  • a Tufts University study that purportedly implicates SSB consumption in 184,000 deaths worldwide annually.