A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by McNeil Nutritionals, the marketer of Splenda, against the Sugar Association, accusing it of false advertising.
The move marks yet another development in the ongoing dispute between the sugar industry and the distributor of UK-based Tate & Lyle's suralose brand product.
The lawsuit claimed that the Sugar Association had engaged in false advertising in connection with a website it had established. The site, truthaboutsplenda.com publishes information about the sweetener, which the association claims comes from "many sources, including consumers who feel deceived by Splenda being advertised as tasting like sugar and being a natural product."
According to a federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, McNeil had no right to maintain an independent action.
The case is one of several where the two groups have battled out their differences through lawsuits.
In December 2005 The Sugar Association first filed a lawsuit against McNeil Nutritionals, in which it claimed that the company was conducting "deceptive and/or misleading representations" in its marketing campaigns, by claiming that Splenda is "made from sugar and so it tastes like sugar."
The Sugar Association claims that Splenda is not natural but a "chlorinated, artificial sweetener, made in a chemical plant."
However, McNeil Nutritionals asserts that sucralose starts off as pure cane sugar, and is then chemically altered in the manufacturing process to create a new compound with zero calories and 600 times sweeter than sugar.
Sales for Splenda, are currently soaring and the battle of lawsuits may not be palpable in terms of sales loss.
According to Datamonitor, the Splenda ingredient was used in some 1,436 new products worldwide in 2004, up from 573 in 2003 and 35 in 1999.
The Sugar Association is not the only one upset with the marketing of Splenda. Merisant, the US maker of tabletop sweetener Equal and NutraSweet and a competitor to Splenda, alleged in November last year that the product's marketing slogan had mislead consumers into thinking the artificial sweetener was 'natural.'