WASHINGTON - Coca-Cola was taken to task by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, with justices questioning whether a drink sold as fruit juice was the real thing.
The soft drinks giant is being sued by Californian fruit juice maker Pom Wonderful, which accuses Coca-Cola (IW 500/27) of misleading consumers about its Minute Maid drink "Pomegranate Blueberry" that contains only 0.5% of the two fruits.
Pom Wonderful attorney Seth Waxman said consumers were being misled by Coca-Cola branding the drink -- which was mostly apple or grape -- as "Pomegranate Blueberry."
Pom Wonderful, which sells 100% pomegranate juice, was suffering as a result of Coca-Cola's practices, Waxman argued.
Coca-Cola won an earlier case in a San Francisco court, which ruled that the company's labeling practices were consistent with U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules.
According to Coca-Cola attorney Kathleen Sullivan, the FDA was responsible for a "national uniformity" of labeling.
Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether it was "Coke's position that national uniformity consists in labels that cheat the consumers like this one did."
Justice Samuel Alito also asked whether consumers purchasing the product expecting to receive the health benefits of pomegranate juice "would be very surprised to find... that it has less than one-half of 1% of pomegranate juice."
A decision is expected in June.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014