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February 3, 2020

Honest Tea Making Less Than Honest Low Sugar Claims

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:55 am

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that Honest Tea, a bottled beverage manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company, is making an implied “low sugar” claim that is prohibited by federal law.

In particular, adorning the top of each bottle of Honest Tea is the claim “Just a Tad Sweet.” Most people would probably understand this to mean that this was a drink low in sugar, and therefore more healthy than a full-sugar drink.


Honest Tea

A close look at the back label with the nutrition facts disclosure reveals that this 16.9 ounce bottle contains 25 grams of sugar. As we’ve reported previously, most consumers have no idea how to convert metric measurements on product labels to more commonly understood ones. In this case, this “tad sweet” product has six teaspoons of sugar. No reasonable consumer would say that that amounts to just a “tad.” The product is loaded with sugar.

So CSPI has sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration urging them to take immediate enforcement action against the company, and to consider coming out with rules defining when “low sugar” claims can be made. And a proposed class action lawsuit has already been filed in New York.

You can learn more about the issue of low sugar claims and Honest Tea here.

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  1. I don’t much pay attention to the units of measurement, be they grams, millilitres, rods, pecks, or cubits. I gauge the sugar (or whatever ingredient) by the percentage of daily intake. I know it’s an approximate value, but when a single bottle says it has half my daily allowance of sugar, I know that’s a LOT of sugar.

    (It took me a moment before I could comment due to a near sprain from eye-rolling so hard at metric illiteracy.)

    Comment by Blaze — February 3, 2020 @ 10:25 am
  2. 49% is now the new Tad….. hahahahahahahhaa….

    Wonder though how much worse would it taste with 80% less sugar.

    Comment by richard Ginn — February 3, 2020 @ 11:18 am
  3. Sounds pretty dis”Honest” to me. They should lose the name

    Comment by David Bookbinder — February 3, 2020 @ 11:30 am
  4. Well, it’s less than half the sugar of an equivalent-sized bottle of Coke.

    Comment by Randall Flagg — February 3, 2020 @ 11:32 am
  5. @ R. Flagg: Oh, good grief, don’t tell them that. Next thing you know their “fix” will be to put” *Compared to our regular Coca Cola ” in 6-point light gray font! 🙂

    Edgar responds: So everyone knows, a regular 12-ounce can of Coke has 9.2 teaspoons of sugar.

    Comment by BobF — February 3, 2020 @ 12:20 pm
  6. Isn’t it reasonable for the consumer to review the nutritional label if the amount of sugar is a concern? It is significantly less than full-sugar soda, and its not like they are “hiding the ball” regarding the sugar content. I don’t see this as a concern.

    Comment by J — February 7, 2020 @ 1:07 pm
  7. Mixing metric and legacy imperil units is a convenient place to hide and confuse.An ingredient panel using “per 100g of product” would not require a mathematician to assess sugar , or any ingredient dosage. Portion size is confusing as well…. US portions are often far larger than other countries.

    Comment by N Innes — February 12, 2020 @ 4:17 am
  8. As someone who must monitor sugar intake, this is invaluable.

    Comment by Ron Hall — February 15, 2020 @ 4:27 pm

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