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A federal judge in Los Angeles has cleared the way for a group of American sugar farmers to ask jurors to decide the credibility of Splenda’s slogan: “Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.” After three years of being caught up in the courts, the Sugar Association’s lawsuit challenging the marketing techniques and potential health effects of the artificial sweetener Splenda is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 28. The Sugar Association v. McNeil Nutritionals, No. CV 04-1077DSF (C.D. Calif.). The case was cleared for trial on Dec. 21, when a federal judge denied Johnson & Johnson’s request for a summary judgment. Earlier this month, the court also denied a previous motion by Johnson & Johnson to have the entire case thrown own. Splenda is made by McNeil Nutritionals, which is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. At issue in the lawsuit is whether Splenda’s slogan “made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar,” is misleading consumers into believing that Splenda is natural and healthy to consume. Plaintiffs argue that Splenda is actually a chemical sweetener containing chlorine, not a natural product, as consumers allegedly are misled into believing. Splenda’s makers have repeatedly denied claims that consumers are being confused or misled, holding they have never maintained or communicated that the brand is natural. They’ve also argued that Splenda actually is made from unrefined table sugar, which is then processed and turned into a no-calorie sweetener. And as for the taste, they further argue, Splenda does taste like sugar, so that’s not false, either.

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