Court Scolds Gerber for Marketing Candy as "Fruit Juice Snacks"
Lawsuit Against Company to Move Forward
January 2, 2009
WASHINGTON—The Gerber Products Company, owned by Nestleì, has drawn harsh criticism from a U.S. Court of Appeals for using pictures of real fruit to market a gummi-bear-like candy formerly called "Fruit Juice Snacks." The Court said that consumers would likely be deceived because the package depicts images of oranges, cherries and strawberries, though the leading ingredients are corn syrup and sugar.
The case brought against Gerber by a private citizen was initially dismissed by a Federal District Court in California, but then reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on December 22. Gerber argued that consumers could avoid being misled by turning the package around and reading the ingredient list. But the Court stated that consumers should not be "expected to look beyond misleading representations on the front of the box to discover the truth from the ingredient list in small print on the side of the box."
"The Court’s decision is a warning to all companies that try to make junk food look healthy by depicting nutritious fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the labels of sugary, high-calorie snacks," said Bruce Silverglade, CSPI director of legal affairs.
Gerber has since renamed the product "Juice Treats," but continues to sell it alongside its baby and toddler food instead of at the candy counter. With corn syrup and sugar as the major ingredients, the product contains far more refined sugar than fruit juice concentrate. CSPI will serve as lead counsel when proceedings resume.