Judge dismisses lawsuit involving HFCS

by Jeff Gelski
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TRENTON, N.J. — A U.S. District Court in New Jersey on June 13 dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Snapple Beverage Corp. violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act by describing its iced tea and juice drinks as "all natural" when they contained high-fructose corn syrup.

The Corn Refiners Association, Washington, applauded the dismissal.

"The decision, issued on June 13, 2008, by U.S. District Court Judge Mary Cooper, holds that F.D.A. regulation of beverage labeling preempts additional labeling requirements under state law," the C.R.A. said.

The plaintiff, Stacy Holk, contended she suffered losses as a result of Snapple’s advertising "in that she paid a premium for Snapple’s beverages but received something less than and different from what was promised and bargained for."

The court said the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act gives the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to regulate food and beverage labeling. The court thus ruled federal laws preempted the plaintiff’s state law claims.

"The court concludes that the F.F.D.C.A. and F.D.A. regulations so thoroughly occupy the field of the beverage labeling at issue in this case that it would be unreasonable to infer that Congress intended states to supplement this area," the court ruled.

Audra Erickson, president of the C.R.A., said, "HFCS contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets F.D.A.’s requirements for the use of the term ‘natural.’"

The plaintiff in the court case argued that the molecules in HFCS do not originate from natural sources, but instead are created through "enzymatically catalyzed chemical reactions in factories."

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