Halunen & Associates has posted a notice on its website accusing Kraft of possible deceptive and fraudulent labelingfor Crystal Light Immunity Diet Beverage which claims that, “Vitamins A,C, E Helps Maintain a Healthy Immune System”.
Attorney at the firm, Susan Coler, said while the response to the posting had so far been lackluster, it was worth pursuing and a class action was expected by year’s end.
Favorable legal developments?
“The law is developing favorably for consumers with recent decisions in the courts on other products such as Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater,” she told NutraIngredients-USA.com.
The legal firm also cites Fruit2O Immunity Nutrient Enhanced Water Beverage which makes similar claims although it erroneously implies the brand is owned by Kraft when it was in fact sold to Sunny Delight Beverages in 2007.
Halunen & Associates specializes in class actions but has not been involved in a successful class action in the food and beverage area.
A high-profile class action succeeded last year when Danone-owned Dannon agreed to alter its immunity labelling and set up a $35m fund to pay off disgruntled consumers.
In its posting Halunen & Associates said of Crystal Light and Fruit20: “Several scientific studies have concluded that those vitamins, in the amounts found in the foods, have little or no impact on the immune system of healthy persons.”
It encourages consumers who may have been, “misguided by one of these products” to contact the firm on a toll-free number or via an online form.
“We only need one consumer to mount a class action,” Coler said.
Halunen & Associates are not the first to question Crystal Light Immunity and Fruit2O Immunity Nutrient Enhanced Water Beverage claims.
In 2008 the Center for Food Safety in the Public Interest highlighted the products in a broader missive against what it viewed as misleading advertising from the likes of General Mills, Dole, Coca-Cola and Sunsweet – and Kraft.
In a letter to the Food and Drug Administration it said: "When companies claim their products will 'maintain a healthy immune system', consumers believe this means those products will help ward off disease. But while vitamins A, C, and E are important for the functioning of just about every system in the human body, there's little evidence to suggest that drinking Crystal Light will have any impact on the average person's immune system.”
However, at the time Kraft told NutraIngredients-USA.com that "there's substantial evidence that vitamins A, C and E play an important role in immune function. Current labeling regulations permit companies to communicate the basic benefits of these nutrients to consumers. In fact, we took great care to label this product within the current regulatory framework."
The firm said its product label indicates that one serving provides at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of vitamins A, C and E, and that in the context of an overall diet, "this beverage should be considered one source - but not the only source - of these important nutrients."