As POM & Coca-Cola Fight, Consumers May Win

Minute Maid Pomegrante Blueberry

A supreme court decision last week could help consumers trying to understand what’s really inside the products they are buying. In a unanimous decision, the court granted POM Wonderful permission to sue Coca-Cola over the latter’s labeling of its Minute Maid branded juice.

What’s this all about?

POM makes 100% pomegranate juice. Minute Maid has a line of juice products, including Minute Maid Enhanced Juice, Pomegranate Blueberry Blend + Omega-3/DHA. Much to your dismay as a consumer, over 99% of the beverage is from apple and grape juice concentrate. But you wouldn’t know it from reading the label or the ingredient list:

APPLE, GRAPE AND POMEGRANATE JUICES FROM CONCENTRATE, FRUIT AND VEGETABLE JUICES (FOR COLOR), BLUEBERRY JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE, NATURAL FLAVORS, RASPBERRY JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE, MODIFIED GUM ACACIA, DHA ALGAL OIL, VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID), CITRIC ACID (PROVIDES TARTNESS), CHOLINE BITARTRATE, VITAMIN E (ALPHA-TOCOPHERYL ACETATE), SOY LECITHIN, VITAMIN B12.

Coke claimed that it’s labeling is in line with FDA regulations. Indeed, it is. But the groundbreaking Supreme Court decision invoked the Lanham Act which prohibits false and misleading statements about a product. The Lanham Act can only be invoked by companies suing other companies for unfair competitive practices.

Could this be good for consumers?

We’re no fans of POM Wonderful’s advertising (See why here and here), but in this particular case, there is an alignment between our call for transparency in food labeling and POM’s business interests. The unanimous 8-0 decision means food marketers will need to be more careful with their messages. Sticking to the letter of the law won’t be enough.

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  • Seajay

    It took me a few seconds to even notice the apple on the label…by design I’m sure.

    • H2O

      Yes they are very sneaky

  • sue

    crazy that they are allowed to group the different fruit juices together as one ingredient. How could you ever figure out how much pomegranate juice is actually in there?

  • Josie Enfield

    I found this problem when trying to buy cranberry juice, none of them was just cranberry they were all blends of Apple/grape and it was hard to find one without added sugar or artificial sweetners.

  • H2O

    On the front it says pomegranate and blueberry which leads you to believe that there’s mostly pomegranate and blueberry. Very deceptive, sad these companies will lie or mislead just for profit. They have no morals. Just trying to fool the consumer.

    • alleecmo

      But if you look carefully, it says “pomegranate and blueberry *flavored* blend of 5 juices” which translates to “apple juice plus some other juices that had the shadows of a blueberry and a pomegranate seed drug across the bottle”. Glad this font & graphics manipulation of the consumer is finally getting a smackdown.

      • H2O

        Yes you do have to look carefully it is purposely deceptive . It has you thinking one thing and it says another. We have to start reading the smaller print. A least we are being made aware of their tactics.

  • trthegteatone

    Codex alamitarious is real the FDA are a bunch of crooks they’re trying to poison us thru the foods we eat, if you can’t read whats on the labeling then you don’t have an idea of what you’re eating or drinking. We need to get our way when it comes to what we’re consuming in our bodies. We have the right to know.

  • Carla Rexrode

    as a person in marketing and sales we are good at letting you think the main ingredient would be pomegranate by the deceptive picture. Consumer behavior process images way before text. Also the size of the text in the label under the image