Artificial vs natural? Ocean Spray sued for using synthetic flavor in its cranberry juice

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Image Credit: ClassAction.org

Ocean Spray, the company that makes several popular cranberry juice drinks, is battling a class-action lawsuit brought by two plaintiffs who claim to be representing just about every living, breathing human in the United States.

Filed in Massachusetts, the lawsuit accuses Ocean Spray of committing fraud, negligent misrepresentation (of its product), breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment …. According to the plaintiffs, Ocean Spray uses artificial flavors, even though the front of its packaging explicitly states otherwise.

The crux of the lawsuit revolves around malic acid, one of the chemicals that makes green apples sour. In nature, malic acid only exists in one form, known as L-malic acid. Its mirror image, called D-malic acid, is not found in nature. When it’s chemically synthesized in the laboratory, malic acid is made as a 50/50 mixture of its D and L forms. Unfortunately for Ocean Spray, adding commercially produced malic acid to its drink means that it’s technically not natural; the D form is not made by plants.

Related article:  Cheese without the cow: Could bioengineering produce animal-free dairy products?

Does this matter in any relevant way? No. About 99% of the vanilla in the world is at least partially synthesized; there simply isn’t enough natural vanilla to flavor all the cookies and ice cream we consume. So, chemists have to make it. Similarly, about 70,000 metric tons of malic acid are made every year for use in all sorts of products.

Read full, original article: Ocean Spray Lawsuit: Another Insane Debate Over ‘Artificial’ Flavors

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