A woman in California has sued Jelly Belly Candy over claims that the sweets company engaged in deceptive labeling and advertising practices.
Jessica Gomez, from San Bernadino County who filed a lawsuit at the Superior Court of California, said that Jelly Belly's Sports Beans, which are advertised as an exercise supplement that contains electrolytes, carbohydrates, and vitamins contain more sugar than she thought.
Gomez claimed that she was induced into buying a product that was falsely being promoted to provide energy for athletes and alleged that Jelly Belly Candy and Does 1-25 falsely marketed the Sports Bean as a performance aid.
"Sport Beans come in tasty natural flavors such as Berry, Fruit Punch and Lemon Lime and contain vitamin C to help protect your body against oxidative damage. Electrolytes in these sports beans helps maintain fluid balance. Try our sports beans that are scientifically formulated to boost your sports performance," Jelly Belly describes Sports Beans on its website.
Sugar And Evaporated Cane Juice
One particular issue brought about by the lawsuit involved the sugar content of the product. Instead of using the term "sugar," Jelly Belly used "evaporated cane juice" on its ingredients list to make the product more attractive to athletes, Gomez and her lawyers said.
Evaporated cane juice has notably been used by many food manufacturers as another word for sugar in the past few years.
Gomez seeks trial by jury, damages, restitution, lawyers' fees and injunctive relief arguing that the labeling of the product was designed to mislead consumers. She said that she and others would not have been as willing to spend as much for the product sans the company's alleged misrepresentation.
Lawyer Jordan Elias of Girard Gibbs LLP in San Francisco said that false advertising cases such as this one is fairly common in California, which has strong consumer protection laws.
Earlier this year, a class-action lawsuit against Apple was also filed in California. The lawsuit claims that despite having the technology to prevent the potentially deadly practice of texting while driving, Apple did not implement a system that can prevent drivers from engaging in the dangerous activity. Talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have also been filed in California.
As for the lawsuit filed against Jelly Belly, Elias said that the company listing evaporated cane juice instead of just sugar on its product's label does appear to be misleading.
"'Sugar' is not found in the ingredient list of defendant's product. Nowhere does defendant explain to consumers (1) that 'evaporated cane juice' is not juice and (2) that 'evaporated cane juice' by its common and usual name is sugar," the complaint reads.
Jelly Belly, however, said in a motion to dismiss the case that the plaintiff's claims are nonsense.
"No reasonable consumer could have been deceived by Sport Beans' labeling — Gomez could not have seen 'evaporated cane juice' without also seeing the product's sugar content on its Nutrition Facts panel," Jelly Belly said.
"And she has pled no facts to suggest that athletes, who consume this product to sustain intense exercise, would want to avoid sugar rather than affirmatively seek it."