Monday, January 28, 2019

Week 4 - Does ginger ale contain real ginger?

Julie Fletcher v Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
Case number 1:18-cv-00766 -EAW
Western District of New York

Ms. Fletcher alleges that ginger has a well-known health benefit of calming an upset stomach, and she therefore purchased Canada Dry Ginger Ale for her children because it was a healthier alternative to soda.

Her lawsuit, filed in New York federal court in July 2018, alleges false advertising because Canada Dry ginger ale actually contains no ginger.  The front of the label says “Made from Real Ginger” but the ingredient list on the back of the label does not contain the word ginger.

The label does contain the words “natural flavors” and one of the natural flavors is ginger flavor extract.  Therefore, the company alleges that the product is made from real ginger.  Ms. Fletcher alleges that the amount of ginger in the finished product sold to consumers is 2 parts per million, a miniscule amount that would provide no health benefits.

The Made From Real Ginger ad campaign began in 2007 and in the first 6 months thereafter, sales rose by 9%.

“DPSG prominently made the claim ‘MADE FROM REAL GINGER’ on the front label panel of all of its Canada Dry Ginger Ale cans and bottles because its marketing research revealed that the claim would cultivate a wholesome and healthful image for Canada Dry and promote the sale of its soft drink in a market environment where consumers were fleeing ‘regular’ sodas due to increasing concerns about the health problems they cause.”

Rather than fighting the case [which is time consuming and expensive], the company decided in January 2019 to offer a settlement, including removing the “made from real ginger” label and advertising, and a payment to “injured consumers” of $5.20 per household if you don't have proof of purchase, or $40 per household if you do have proof of purchase.