Canada Dry Faces Lawsuit Over Lack of Ginger

August 10, 2018

Over the last few years, many Americans have started to cut sugary drinks like soda out of their diets for health reasons. So instead of reaching for a Coke, these calorie-conscious consumers will opt for alternatives like bottled water or ginger ale. According to a recent lawsuit filed in New York, however, the latter isn’t that much better than soda if you’re drinking Canada Dry. Despite advertising on the label that it is “made with real ginger,” plaintiff Julie Fletcher claims the main ingredients are little more than carbonated water and high-fructose corn syrup.

In response, Canada Dry’s parent company, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, said that it uses real ginger to produce its natural flavorings. The lawsuit counters this claim, though, arguing that the drink is composed “predominantly of flavor extracts not derived from ginger, and a minuscule amount of a ginger flavor extract.” The complaint also describes how the plaintiff felt deceived by the claims on the drink’s packaging. “Ms. Fletcher believed this meant that Canada Dry was made using ginger root and was, as a result, a healthier alternative to regular sodas,” said her lawyer. “Ms. Fletcher knew that ginger root can calm an upset stomach and she purchased Canada Dry when her children were sick, believing that the ginger root in the beverage would soothe their stomach aches.”

Since the drink did little to help her kids’ aching bellies, Fletcher filed a lawsuit saying that she’d been hurt economically by false advertising. Along with seeking damages, she could also expand her case to other plaintiffs by opening it as a class-action lawsuit. But Fletcher’s victory is far from guaranteed. In fact, a similar suit recently popped up in a Missouri court only to be dismissed soon after. What’s more, Canada Dry isn’t the only brand that’s faced legal action for false advertising. Kellogg’s has appeared in court to defend Froot Loops cereal against claims that it contained no real fruit. Meanwhile, Starbucks frequently deals with complaints that its pumpkin spice latte contain no pumpkin.

Questions:

  1. Do you think Julie Fletcher has a case against Canada Dry? Why or why not?
  2. What should companies do to avoid accusations of false advertising?

Source: Renae Reints, “Woman Sues Canada Dry Over Lack of Ginger in Ginger Ale,” Fortune, July 31, 2018. Photo by Don O’Brien.

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