A California woman claims that the candy company Jelly Belly tricked her into buying its Sport Beans, a candy that doubles as a diet supplement to “fuel” the body and help burn fat, which had more sugar than she thought.
Jessica Gomez, of San Bernardino County, filed a class-action lawsuit against the jelly bean company in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in February. She claims that the company attempted to mask how much sugar was in its Sport Beans Energizing Jelly Beans by labeling sugar as “evaporated cane juice” on the list of ingredients, Forbes magazine reported.
“The term ‘evaporated cane juice’ is false or misleading because it suggests that the sweetener is ‘juice’ or is made from ‘juice’ and does not reveal that its basic nature and characterizing properties are those of a sugar,” an attorney representing Gomez wrote in a letter to the company.
The lawsuit also alleges that Jelly Belly misleads its consumers by claiming the Sport Bean contains carbohydrates, electrolytes and vitamins as a way of advertising the product for athletes, according to court newswire Legal News Line.
Gomez accuses the company of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and product liability.
The nutritional information on the Sport Beans’ packaging says that one serving size of the product (28 grams) contains 17 grams of sugar and lists “evaporated cane juice” as the first ingredient for each flavor.
However, the Sport Beans website lists “cane sugar” on its ingredient list and says that one serving contains 19 grams of sugar.
In an April motion to dismiss the case, attorneys for Jelly Belly said, “This is nonsense,” according to the San Francisco Gate.
“No reasonable consumer could have been deceived by Sports Beans’ labeling,” the motion read. “Gomez could not have seen ‘evaporated cane juice’ without also seeing the product’s sugar content on its Nutrition Facts panel.”
While it may seem shortsighted to assume that a jelly bean does not contain sugar, Gomez’s lawsuit does point to a larger issue on food labels.
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, said in a 2014 blog post that “evaporated cane juice is the food industry’s latest attempt to convince you that ... it is natural and healthy, better for you than table sugar and much better for you than high fructose corn syrup.”
And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seems to agree.
Last year, the FDA announced that labeling sweeteners derived from sugar cane as “evaporated cane juice” is misleading and encouraged companies to relabel the ingredient as “sugar.”
The FDA said in a 2016 press release that the term is misleading because “it suggests that the sweetener is fruit or vegetable juice or is made from fruit or vegetable juice, and does not reveal that the ingredient’s basic nature and characterizing properties are those of a sugar.”
Gomez’s attorneys and representatives of Jelly Belly did not respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment by the time of publication.