March 30 (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co's Simply Orange juice
brand isn't simply orange juice, according to a lawsuit filed
against the beverage company on Friday.
Instead, the lawsuit in an Illinois federal court claims
that the product undergoes extensive processing, and is
dependent upon added aroma and flavoring in a way not found in
nature. The plaintiff, a consumer, accuses Coca-Cola of fraud,
and seeks class action status.
The consumer, Randall Davis, had bought the product - whose
label says "100% Pure Squeezed Orange Juice" - at stores "for
personal, family, or household purposes," the lawsuit said.
Coca-Cola spokeswoman Susan Stribling said the company's
Simply and Minute Maid juices are properly labeled in full
accordance with FDA regulations.
"This lawsuit has nothing to do with misleading consumers
and everything to do with lining class action lawyers' pockets,"
Stribling said. "It is a meritless case against which we will
vigorously defend ourselves."
Lawsuits against food and beverage companies over alleged
misleading marketing have drawn more attention, with sometimes
dubious results for the plaintiffs.
A suit accusing Taco Bell of misrepresenting the amount of
beef in its products received national headlines last year. But
Taco Bell vehemently disputed the claims, which were soon
voluntarily withdrawn by the plaintiff.
The latest lawsuit said that chemically engineered "flavor
packs" are added to Simply Orange, in order to mimic the flavor
of natural orange juice. Consumers are willing to pay a premium
price for Simply Orange, due in part to their false belief in
the freshness of the product, the lawsuit said.
"Coca-Cola misrepresented that Simply Orange was 100% pure
and natural orange juice when in fact it was not," the lawsuit
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of
Illinois is Randall Davis, on behalf of himself and all others
similarly situated, v. The Coca-Cola Company, 12-cv-02391.
For Davis: Jamie Weiss of Complex Litigation Group.
For Coca-Cola Company: Not immediately available.
(Reporting by Dan Levine)
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