Misleading Beverage Labels

No one likes feeling deceived by the food and drinks they buy at the store. But as recent cases might show, there are more than a few drinks in stores that aren't what they seem.

Check out The Most Misleading Beverage Labels

In recent history, it was orange juice, POM pomegranate juice, and coconut water that came under fire for misleading labels. And while orange juice may not be as pure as you might think, and POM won't fix all of your health problems, there are a few more offenders to add to the list of misleading labels.

Click here to see 8 'Healthy' Drinks That Are Actually Terrible for You

So what's a consumer to do? Read up on the latest drinks under fire for deceptive labeling, and learn what's really in your drink. At this rate, that tap water is looking might tasty.

Credit: Flickr/ youaremycookie"All Natural" Arizona Teas
All of those "natural" claims on the Arizona tea cans really put the company in hot water, when a class-action lawsuit was filed against the beverage-maker for its "natural" labels - and its use of high-fructose corn syrup and citric acid. But there's still no real resolution as to whether the Arizona beverages are in fact natural. The three-year-old class-action lawsuit against Arizona Beverages was recently thrown out; as one attorney explained to Food Navigator, "The judge basically said that just because something is processed, doesn't mean it isn't 'natural." Of course, scores of other experts would argue that high-fructose corn syrup is in fact artificial, despite its chemical similarities to table sugar. So those "natural" claims on the back of the giant Arizona teas may stick around a while longer - but that doesn't mean you should trust them.


Credit: Flickr/ rachel10979CytoSport Muscle Milk: 'Fat-Laden Junk Food'
If you actually thought that Muscle Milk would buff you up, and were sorely disappointed, you may be able to get some money back. A recent class-action lawsuit against Muscle Milk and its line of nutrition supplements was settled for $5.3 million, meaning that anyone who bought a Muscle Milk product between 2007 and the end of 2012 may be able to get a refund. The lawsuit debunked Muscle Milk's claims that the drinks provided "Healthy, Sustained Energy" and "healthy fats," - and the lawsuit found that the drinks contained trace amounts of metals, including lead, cadmium, and/or arsenic. (What, you don't like drinking lead?) The result of the lawsuit (in which the California federal court called the Muscle Milk drinks "a fat-laden junk food") now means that CytoSport must remove the offending labels and pay up. Lexology also notes that CytoSport will donate $85,000 to the American Heart Association to "further the class' interest in cardiovascular health." Because cardiovascular health and sugary protein drinks definitely go hand in hand.


Credit: MojoMojo Malt Liquor, Just Like Bottled Water
Don't be fooled by the pretty plastic bottle: the newest malt liquor to hit shelves, called Mojo, has liquor boards across the country concerned because its bottle design looks remarkably like a water bottle. The drink was sold in nine states in the Northeast, but New Hampshire has moved to ban it from sale in the state because of its resemblance to bottled water. Said the New Hampshire Liquor Commission in a statement, "These products are clear liquid, resembling water and are packaged in containers that resemble specialty water products." And the maker behind the Mojo drink, Irokos Group, wants to sell a New Hampshire version of the drink that's only 5.9 percent ABV (instead of its normal 7 percent), so that it technically qualifies as a malt beverage instead of a malt liquor - so you can see it in a mom-and-pop liquor store next to the Mike's Hard. One of the leading execs at Irokos Group said in response to the New Hampshire Union Leader that the fury at Mojo has been overblown. "I am frustrated that people are trying to give it a bad image for something so simple," he said. "This product is the same as Smirnoff Ice." So make sure you know what you're picking up at the liquor store.


Credit: Flickr/ Simon le NipponInaccurate Labeling on Energy Drinks
The makers of energy drinks, especially Monster Energy Drinks and 5-Hour Energy Drinks, have been under fire for quite a few months now. Back in July, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas for PepsiCo (the manufacturer behind Monster Beverages and Living Essentials) to further investigate the company's marketing and advertising claims, including inaccurate labeling. The FDA followed suit with its own investigation in November.

The results should come as no surprise; one study found that the amount of caffeine in an energy drink is often very different from what the label says. One Consumer Reports study found that of 27 brands tested, 11 didn't specify the amount of caffeine in the drink; the reason may be that energy drinks may not want to publicize their proprietary blends, which could include ingredients like amino acids, carbohydrates, guarana, and one particularly troublesome ingredient: dimethylamylamine (DMAA). In the latest energy drink news, the FDA has come out with a staunch warning against energy drinks and supplements with DMAA. Reports Boston.com, "The FDA said it had received 60 reports of serious conditions such as heart attacks, seizures, psychiatric problems, and deaths that were associated with DMAA use." Lovely. The manufacturer of one energy supplement, USPlabs, commented that DMAA is a natural dietary ingredient, but others have said that the plant-based argument is a guise for new pharmaceuticals. The take-away: you can't really trust what's in your energy drink.


Credit: Flickr/ The Chif LifeEvaporated Cane Juice in Trader Joe's Organic Soy Chocolate Milk
Sure, you see the label and think, "Organic? Soy? Sure, that must be good for kids." But according to a new class-action lawsuit filed last month against the chain, the Trader Joe's milk may be filled with more sugar than you think. The soy milk was just one of the many products named in the suit for one particular ingredient - evaporated cane juice - which the plaintiffs say is just a fancy word for sugar. As The Huffington Post notes, "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned the term 'evaporated cane juice' as a synonym for sugar on packaged foods, but the use of the term has become increasingly common over the past few years." The suit also alleges that the label on the organic soy chocolate milk is misleading because it suggests that it acts as a substitute for dairy milk, despite the fact that calcium from soy milk is harder to absorb than calcium from dairy milk.


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- Marcy Franklin, The Daily Meal

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