Johnson & Johnson Sued for Misrepresenting “Health Benefits” of Splenda Essentials Sweetener
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Having lost a billion-dollar case over illegal marketing of its pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson is now being sued for misleading consumers about the artificial sweetener Splenda.
Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, McNeil Nutritionals, has claimed Splenda Essentials can help people lose weight and live healthier lives, according to Barbara Bronson, one of the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit.
The company’s advertising says Splenda Essentials provides B vitamins, antioxidants, and other ingredients that can lead to weight loss and the avoidance of disease, among other health benefits.
But these claims are false, the plaintiffs argue.
“It’s ridiculous — but apparently profitable — to claim that bulking up Splenda with vitamins or powdered fiber is going to make it a magical health food,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is supporting the lawsuit. “It’s an artificial sweetener, not pixie dust.”
Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary also was sued after a 2005 ad campaign claimed Splenda was “made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.” That case was brought by rival Merisant, manufacturer of the sugar substitute Equal, which was backed by a complaint from the Sugar Association.
Splenda is a creation of sucrose and chlorine, “forming a unique molecule that is 600 times sweeter than sugar,” according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Johnson & Johnson is already on the hook to pay $2.2 billion to settle allegations that it illegally marketed an antipsychotic drug and other medications.
To Learn More:
Barbara Bronson, Michael Fishman, and Alvin Kupperman v. Johnson & Johnson (Class Action Complaint) (pdf)
“Splenda Essentials” Target of Lawsuit (Center for Science in the Public Interest)
Johnson & Johnson Agrees to Pay $2.2 Billion to Halt Probe of Illegal Marketing of Painkiller (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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