True Lemon is being accused of false labeling for the way it packages its powdered drink mixes, according to a new class action lawsuit.
The products, which come in a variety of fruit flavors and are meant to be mixed with water, are packaged with labeling that boasts of being “simple and clean” and “naturally flavored,” but one their key flavor-enhancing ingredients is artificial — and not accurately listed as being in the mix, the class action lawsuit claims. In fact, it took “analytical testing” to determine the True Lemon drink mixes contain artificial flavoring, according to the plaintiff’s lawyers.
The company’s practices are in violation of several of California’s consumer protection laws, the class action lawsuit argues.
Mary Tedesco of San Diego filed the class action lawsuit against True Lemon and its parent company, Grand Brands Inc., in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on Sept. 28. She says she purchased the packets of powdered drink mixes in part because the packaging led her to believe they were made from all-natural ingredients.
Tedesco was willing to pay what she describes as a “premium” price for the mixes because they seemed to be “more natural and healthier than other, similar drink mixes,” her class action lawsuit explains.
Real Lemon sells drink mixes of various flavors – Original Lemonade, Raspberry Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade and Black Cherry – all of which are labeled with images of fruit and wording that describes them as containing natural flavors derived from things such as crystallized lemon and lime.
But the mixes don’t contain those things, Tedesco claims.
“The products consist of, for example, manufactured citric acid and synthetic dl-malic acid with sugar and minor amounts of lemon oil and lemon juice for additional flavoring,” the class action lawsuit says.
Among the ingredients listed on the drink mixes is malic acid. Tedesco’s lawyers say “analytical testing” done on each flavor of True Lemon’s powders revealed that the company actually “adds the artificial flavoring dl-malic acid to each of the products.”
There are natural and artificial types of malic acid, and dl-malic acid is artificial — a synthetic chemical made from petroleum. It is often used to boost the tart and fruity flavor of processed foods and is sometimes used as a preservative, according to NuVvaGen.
By law, manufacturers are required to identify the type of malic acid contained in their products, the class action lawsuit claims, but True Lemon doesn’t do that.
“Although the malic acid [True Lemon] used in the products to simulate the characterizing fruit flavors is dl-malic acid — the artificial petrochemical — the defendant pretends otherwise,” the class action lawsuit claims.
The class action complaint later argues that even if consumers were to review True Lemon’s detailed lists of ingredients and compare them with the package’s claims of containing all-natural ingredients, they “would still be unable to verify whether the products contained artificial flavoring.”
Shoppers should not have to “subject consumer food products to laboratory analysis” in order to determine their true ingredients, the class action lawsuit argues.
Tedesco claims True Lemon’s drink mixes labeling violates California consumer protection laws against intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, fraud by omission and breach of express warranty and implied warranty, among others. She is seeking to represent a Class of all consumers who purchased any of the drink mixes in California between Sept. 1, 2014, and the present.
Have you ever purchased one of True Lemon’s fruit-flavored drink mixes because you thought they were all natural? Do you think you were deceived by the product’s marketing and labeling? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Lead plaintiff and the proposed Class Members are represented by Ronald A. Marron, Alexis M. Wood, Kas L. Gallucci, Michael T. Houchin and Elisa Pineda of The Law Offices of Ronald A. Marron and David Elliot of Elliot Law Office PC.
The True Lemon Class Action Lawsuit is Mary Tedesco, et al. v. Grand Brands Inc., Case No. 3:20-cv-01928-TWR-JLB, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
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