Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Nutritionals are the targets of a class action law suit in California that alleges that the marketing of Splenda Essentials is deceptive and misleading.
Splenda Essentials is a higher-priced line of the no-calorie artificial sweetener sucralose that is fortified either with B vitamins, antioxidants, or fibre. Those additions, according to the law suit, are designed to give the impression that Splenda Essentials will help lose weight, avoid disease, or confer other health benefits.
But that impression is false, according to the suit brought by CSPI – the Center for Science in the Public Interest - a lawsuit filed today in federal court, which alleges that Splenda Essentials provides no health benefits whatsoever and short-changes consumers.
Since 1971, CSPI has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science. Its newsletter, Nutrition Action Healthletter, has around 900,000 subscribers in the United States and Canada.
Consumers, according to papers filed on behalf of CSPI, are increasingly health-conscious. In an effort to maintain or lose weight, many consumers try to “speed up” their metabolism, or increase their fibre intake to feel fuller longer. Some consumers aim to prevent illness and disease by increasing their antioxidant intake.
These health concerns, the papers go on to say, motivate the purchase and consumption of Splenda Essentials, from which the defendants significantly profit, commanding a premium price for Splenda Essentials by distinguishing it from regular Splenda and other no-calorie sugar substitutes, and by marketing it as a sweetener that “gives you a small boost of healthy nutrients”.
On average, the price of Splenda Essentials is 25% higher than original Splenda.
The suit claims that Splenda Essentials is deceptively named because consumers are led to believe that it is in some ways a necessity; that it does not confer the benefits claimed by Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Nutritionals; and that the Federal Trade Commission requires a higher standard of proof in order to permit the claims being made.