While it’s known for its 100% V8 vegetable juice, Campbell Soup knows not everyone wants to straight up chug tomatoes. That’s why it’s been peddling its V8 Splash and V8 V-Fusion drinks, which combines fruit juices as well as those healthy veggies. But one food watchdog group says the company is misleading consumers about exactly how much juice is actually in those beverages. It’s threatening to sue Campbell.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest formally threatened to sue the company [PDF] today if it continues to engage in alleged deceptive marketing with those product lines.
One issue? CSPI says that while those items showcase a plethora of pictures of fruits and vegetables, that are practically screaming “I’M HEALTHY! DRINK ME!” all those photos don’t necessarily correspond to how much actual juice is in the drinks.
Instead, it says it claims the company markets the drinks “as nutritionally equivalent to fruits and vegetables, boasting about the drinks’ antioxidant content, and encouraging consumers to ‘enjoy the many benefits that come from getting the recommended servings of vegetables every day.’ ”
But for example, V8 V-FUsion Refreshers have 20-25% juice, and V8 Splash only contains around five to 10% juice. Not exactly a cause for a fruit and veggie photo celebration, perhaps. In addition to that, the group is calling out Campbell for including artificial food dyes, high-fructose corn syrup, and sometimes artificial sweeteners such as sucralose or acesulfame potassium.
“Campbell’s motivation is that water, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners are cheaper to bottle than 100 percent juice made from tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, kiwis, and so on,” said CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner. “Products like V8 Splash and V8 V Fusion Refreshers are designed to be convincing simulations of the real thing. It’s an elaborate con designed to extract money from consumers who will likely think they’re getting something else.”
CSPI also claims Campbell violates federal law by claiming that the V-Fusion drinks have “no added sugar,” contending that it actually does have added sugar.
In addition, CSPI is calling foul on what it calls misleading statements about V8 Splash’s antioxidant content, as consumers might assume that the vitamins the drink has comes from fruits and vegetables as pictured on the label. But instead, much of the A and C is added through fortification, claims CSPI.
“In fact, the negative effects of the high sugar and liquid calorie content of Campbell’s products on consumers’ health outweigh any potential health benefits from vitamins A and C,” according to CSPI.
Campbell Soup tells Consumerist:
“We have just received the 10 page letter this morning and are in the process of reviewing it,” a spokesman wrote. “We label all of our products in compliance with all laws and government regulations. We value the longstanding relationship that Campbell has with consumers and their families. All of the information that consumers need about the nutrition provided in a bottle of V8 V-Fusion Refreshers and V8 Splash is clearly provided on the label.”