Discovery over whether Coca-Cola’s orange juice products have synthetic ingredients confirms that the plaintiffs have no case over its juice marketing, the beverage giant argued in court papers.
“Discovery has only confirmed what Coca-Cola has said from the very start of this case: plaintiffs’ allegations that Coca-Cola’s orange juice products violate the US [Food and Drug Administration] FDA’s orange juice regulations have no basis in fact,” Coca-Cola said in a joint status report.
The litigation over the marketing and sales practices of Coca Cola’s Simply Orange and Minute Maid orange juices is pending in the District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
The court ordered discovery into whether the orange juices contain synthetic flavors or “orange pulp, oil, or essence at levels significantly in excess of those found in raw processed orange juice.” The court also ordered discovery into additives to Coca-Cola’s “not-from-concentrate” orange juice products and “water-soluble constituents of orange essence.” The court also ordered discovery into whether orange pulp, synthetic flavors or other ingredients in Coca-Cola’s orange juice are higher than permitted by FDA regulations.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs argue Coca-Cola has withheld information about its Simply Orange and Minute Maid orange juice products including whether an “addback” to its juices is synthetic and affects the taste, smell, or color of the juices to achieve a flavor preferred by consumers.
“According to evidence adduced in discovery, the addback used in the products was created, in part, through consumer taste testing and consumer preference was an important consideration in the creation of the addback,” the plaintiffs said. “Thus, plaintiffs believe that the formulas for the addback … including the function it has in the products (i.e., the flavor the addback is intended to impart) would demonstrate whether the products contain ingredients that must be disclosed under FDA regulations.”
But Coca-Cola countered that the company has produced 20,000 pages of document, including the formulas for Simply Orange orange juice, Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice and Minute Maid Premium orange juice.
The plaintiffs also have deposed Dr. Timothy Anglea, Coca-Cola’s global master blender for juice science & technology and Alan Wyland, Coca-Cola’s research and development director for citrus research and technology, Coca-Cola said.
Discovery ended December 13.
Amaris Elliott-Engel contributes to law.com.