The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) today threatened to sue Campbell's Soup Company alleging that it makes misleading statements about the juice content, nutritional value and healthfulness of V8 juices sold in the US.
V8 Splash and V8 V-Fusion Refreshers contain as little as 5%, and no more than 25% fruit or vegetable juice, the CSPI said, but "regardless of their actual juice content, V8 Splash and V8 V-Fusion Refreshers have labels that are festooned with pictures of fruits and vegetables".
Graphically the labels are similar to those used on V8 100% juice,the CSPI claims, while alleging that Campbell's even markets the drinks as nutritionally equivalent to fruits and vegetables, highlighting their antioxidant content and encouraging consumers to enjoy benefits from them as as part of the recommended daily serving of vegetables.
V8 Splash also includes artificial food dyes, high fructose corn syrup (which the CSPI thinks is a bad thing) and artificial sweeteners including sucralose and acesulfame potassium.
A Campbell Soup Company spokesman told BeverageDaily.com: "We have just received the 10 page letter this morning and are in the process of reviewing it. 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.
Nutritional information is clear, Campbell's insists
"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," he added.
But CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardne said: “Campbell’s motivation is that water, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners are cheaper to bottle than 100% juice made from tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, kiwis, and so on,”
“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 that Campbell's in violating federal law by claiming that V-Fusion had 'no added sugar', and does so in a letter sent to Campbell's president and CEO Denise Morrison claiming that the company's V-Fusion Refreshers do contain added sugar.
V8 also attacked by for antioxidant claims
Finally, CSPI contends that statements relating to V8 Splash's antioxidant content are misleading, since consumers might assume that vitamins in the drinks, which are labeled as an "excellent source of vitamins A and C" come from the fruits and vegetables pictured on the label.
"But in reality, much of the vitamins are added through fortification. FDA regulations prohibit the artificial fortification of nutritionally void beverages—and V8 Splash has more high-fructose corn syrup than fruit or vegetable juice concentrates," CSPI says.
The advocacy group claims in its letter - which you can read in full here - that the negative effects of the high sugar and liquid calorie content of Campbell's products on consumer health "outweighs any potential health benefits from vitamins A and C".