Jessica Gomez of San Bernadino County is confused about candy. So confused that earlier this year, she brought a lawsuit against Jelly Belly, the company that creates jelly beans, alleging that “fancy phrasing” on the packaging led her to believe she was purchasing a sugar-free product.
Gomez bought Jelly Belly Sport, a variation of the candy that is marketed as an exercise supplement, supposedly containing carbohydrates, electrolytes and vitamins, which lists evaporated cane juice on the ingredient label, but not sugar.
In her class action suit (meaning it represents any person who has been similary misled by Jelly Belly), Gomez states that the ingredient label violates the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Business Practices Law and False Advertising Law in California, by intentionally confusing so-called health-concious consumers. Why apparent health fanatics would be eating candy as an exercise supplement in the first place goes without explanation.
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Understably, Jelly Belly doesn’t think the case has any merit whatsoever, calling the case “nonsense.” They rightfully point out that although the ingredient label may state “evaporated cane juice,” the nutrition facts must include the product’s sugar content — which Gomez would have seen if she was examining the packaging as carefully as she claims.
The candy company does seem to be in the wrong in one regard, though: Last year, the FDA decided that the word juice cannot be used to describe anything that doesn’t come from a fruit or vegetable, which means that sometimes when companies use the term juice it can mislead consumers into thinking a product is healthier than it actually is.
Obviously, the company still wants the lawsuit thrown out, arguing that, “Plaintiff does not explain why an athlete—or anyone—would be surprised to find sugar in a product described as ‘Jelly Beans'”, which is a fair point.
This type of lawsuit seems to be popping up all over the place lately: Earlier this month a case against Hershey’s slack-fill practices was allowed to move forward in court, and last year Krispy Kreme was sued for neglecting to tell customers that their doughnuts don’t contain real fruit.