SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. — A California woman is suing Jelly Belly, claiming the “fancy phrasing” on the packaging of its “Sport Beans” tricked her into believing the product was sugar-free.
And she might have a case, Fox News reports.
Jessica Gomez filed the lawsuit earlier this year, claiming the Sport Beans are marketed as an exercise supplement, according to Legal News Line.
The Jelly Belly website advertises Sport Beans as “Scientifically formulated to maximize sports performance.”
“Clinically proven to maximize sports performance, each bean is loaded with carbs for fuel, electrolytes to help maintain fluid balance and vitamins to optimize energy release,” the website states.
Jelly Belly lists evaporated cane juice on the ingredient label, but not sugar, Fox News reports.
The lawsuit claims the wording on the label is designed to intentionally confuse health-conscious consumers — and that it violates California laws prohibiting false advertising, according to Forbes.
Jelly Belly tried to have the case dismissed in April, arguing “Gomez could not have seen ‘evaporated cane juice’ without also seeing the product’s sugar content on its nutrition facts panel,” Fox News reported.
But the Food and Drug Administration issued a statement on the use of the term “evaporated cane juice” that seems to indicate Gomez might have a case.
“The FDA’s view is that the term ‘evaporated cane juice’ is false or misleading because it suggests that the sweetener is fruit or vegetable juice or is made from fruit or vegetable juice, and does not reveal that the ingredient’s basic nature and characterizing properties are those of a sugar,” the FDA stated in May 2016.
The FDA recommended using the term “sugar” instead of “evaporated cane juice” but didn’t require it.
“The guidance recommends that ingredients currently labeled as ‘evaporated cane juice’ be relabeled to use the term ‘sugar,’ optionally accompanied by a truthful, non-misleading descriptor to distinguish the ingredient from other cane-based sweeteners,” the FDA stated.
According to Fox News, the company called the lawsuit “nonsense.”
“Plaintiff does not explain why an athlete — or anyone — would be surprised to find sugar in a product described as ‘Jelly Beans,'” the company was quoted as stating.