CSPI targets marketing of Splenda Essentials in new lawsuit

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

CSPI targets marketing of Splenda Essentials in new lawsuit
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has taken aim at McNeil Nutritionals’ Splenda Essentials sweetener in a lawsuit filed in a California district court, alleging that the fortified sweetener’s marketing violates consumer protection laws.

The lawsuit​, which seeks class action status, alleges that the marketing of Splenda-brand sucralose fortified with added B vitamins, fiber, or antioxidants misleads consumers into thinking the products provide added health benefits.

The Splenda Essentials website​ claims that added B vitamins mixed with the sweetener “help support a healthy metabolism”, and the plaintiffs claim that along with other messages on the website, this might lead some consumers to believe that the B vitamin-fortified sweetener could help with weight loss.

“A reasonable consumer’s expectation is that a “healthy metabolism” will help them lose weight by metabolizing fat and carbohydrates,”​ the court documents say. “No reliable studies show that B vitamin supplementation promotes weight loss or weight management in any amount, including the amount in Splenda Essentials. Furthermore, most Americans are not suffering from deficiencies of these B vitamins.”

The CSPI, which is helping to bring the suit, says that supplementation with antioxidant nutrients like vitamins C and E generally has not been shown to have the same benefits as consumption of fruit and vegetables in clinical trials.

As for the one gram of corn fiber in the fiber-fortified version, it said: “There is no scientific consensus that a refined fiber functions like the intact fibers found in whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.”

A spokesperson for McNeil Nutritionals told FoodNavigator-USA that the company was aware of the case, but did not comment on litigation.

The company sells the fortified sweetener range at an average premium of about 25% compared to its non-fortified Splenda sweetener, the court documents say. The suit seeks damages, as well as an injunction to stop the company from continuing with its current marketing.

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