By Dane Feldman
Photo courtesy Lower Columbia College.
Late last week, the makers of Naked Juice settled a lawsuit regarding its “all natural” line of beverages and agreed to pay $9 million. The company’s claims that the juices are “all natural” were found to be false advertising.
While the company has succumbed and says the deal is “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” a more in-depth explanation for the term ‘natural ingredients’ may have helped Naked Juice avoid this issue altogether. In the meantime, the drinks’ labels will be altered to exclude the mentioning of all natural ingredients.
According to LA Weekly, the settlement was based on the fact that some of the Naked Juice varieties contain Fibersol-2, a soluble corn fiber meant to increase the juices’ fiber content, fructooligosaccharides, a fructose-based sweetener and indigestible fiber, and inulin, a soluble fiber. Genetically modified soy is also an ingredient in some of the juices. Whether or not the company is unclear on the term “natural ingredients,” it is unlikely that they were unaware that these specific ingredients are, in fact, unnatural.
Naked Juice will also be having its products tested in order to confirm its “non-GMO” labels as part of the agreement. Interestingly enough, some of the juices contain unnaturally processed ingredients, synthetic ingredients, and even ingredients that are derived from genetically modified crops.
How can Naked confirm that the products are actually “non-GMO” products if they aren’t?
Well, apparently there’s a difference between “non-GMO” and “GMO free,” though how the Food and Drug Administration deciphers the two has been made unclear. The FDA has, however, said that they have yet to come to terms with a solid definition of what it means to be a “natural food product.”
What is perhaps most frustrating for me in all of this is just how opaque both Naked and the FDA have been in the wake of this settlement. What makes Naked Juice “non-GMO” and what is a “natural” ingredient? After researching, I still don’t know. The FDA doesn’t have an answer for us yet and until they’ve reached a decision on defining “natural,” we’ll be stuck in limbo, guessing which products contain what.
The Naked Juice slogan, “Only the freshest, purest stuff in the world” will be removed from labels, according to the Washingtonian, but it frustrates me that it was there in the first place.
I’ll say that I was a sucker for Naked Juice. I liked the juices, believed the claims, and ultimately fell victim to the hype. While, sadly, it isn’t easy to always know what’s in our food, I intend to pay even closer attention than I’m currently paying.
In the meantime, I think I’m done with Naked.