Product News and Recalls

Lawsuit filed against J&J over misleading claims

Consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest has filed a federal lawsuit over artificial sweetener Splenda Essentials, claiming that Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Nutritionals is misleading consumers about the product’s supposed health benefits.

In a press release, CSPI says that Splenda Essentials’ marketing is designed to give the false impression that the sweetener confers health benefits, such as helping its users lose weight and avoid disease.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of three California consumers, and seeks certification as a class action.

The complaint alleges that Splenda Essentials’ labeling and marketing violates California’s Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Law, the Consumers Legal Remedy Act, and the fraudulent business practices provisions of the state’s Business and Professions Code. It seeks restitution to consumers and disgorgement of profits from the product line, as well as injunctive relief prohibiting the company from continuing its deceptive labeling and marketing.

Johnson & Johnson is facing other legal action as well – alleging that the company’s products have not only deceived, but harmed their users.

Thousands of plaintiffs in lawsuits concerning Johnson & Johnson’s all-metal hip implants and transvaginal mesh implants claim the company intentionally marketed them while suppressing information about their potential danger to patients.

Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics division was obliged to recall the hip implants in 2010 after nearly half of the patients who received them had to get them replaced within six years. And the company recently recalled four different types of transvaginal mesh implants, used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, following widespread complaints that they caused severe pain and injuries for recipients.

According to the CSPI, Splenda’s Website includes statements such as “Make everything you sweeten a little bit better for you with Splenda Essentials Sweetener Products!”and touts the sweeteners’ “small boost of healthy nutrients–B vitamins, antioxidants, or fiber.”

Splenda Essentials with B Vitamins’ label states claims the product “helps support a healthy metabolism,” and the Website describes how the vitamins support the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that kind of language implies Splenda helps burn calories and promote weight loss. But most Americans are not deficient in B vitamins, and no reliable studies show that supplementation with B vitamins promotes weight loss or weight management.

The CSPI press release quotes organization executive director Michael F. Jacobson as saying: “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. It’s an artificial sweetener, not pixie dust.”

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns. If you have significant injuries, you should also consult with a lawyer familiar with the DePuy hip implant or transvaginal mesh case to discuss your legal rights.

See the news release here: