Thursday, March 13, 2014

Nakéd Juice: Unnatural Ingredients (2013)

Popular flavors of Nakéd Juice

In 2013 PepsiCo had a lawsuit brought against them for their marketing of "Nakéd Juice". Marketed and sold as an "all-natural" juice drink the lawsuit brought against PepsiCo took issue with health phrases that did not accurately portray the product. The lawsuit states that the drink contains Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) despite PepsiCo's denial of such claims. Additionally PepsiCo's use of the phrase "all-natural" is seen as misleading since some of the Naked Juice products use some synthetic vitamin boosters and a synthetic fiber additive. PepsiCo decided to settle the lawsuit with a $9 million settlement fund that allows consumers to get up to $75 with proof of purchase from consuming the Naked Juice products between September 2007 and August 2013. The settlement fund looks to pay reparations to the consumers of the product within the given time frame. The stakeholders in this lawsuit are all the affected consumers who purchased the Naked Juice products up until August 2013 and PepsiCo itself. This post will look at PepsiCo's use of phrasing in marketing and selling Naked Juice as well as the message the settlement sends to consumers using four ethical theories: Individualist Theory, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Theory.
In Individualist Theory a business's primary goal is to make profits for its stockholders and employees so long as the business respects laws and human rights in the process. PepsiCo's actions in marketing Naked Juice as "all natural" and "non-GMO" allowed for consumers to trust the all natural label in making a healthy drink choice. Without a doubt this allowed profits for Naked Juice to gain a foothold in the market thanks to the healthy, all natural marketing. However, this marketing is deceptive at best for the consumer since some genetically altered ingredients are used in the drink. Genetically altered soy, vitamins, and fiber do not fit the image of an "all natural" product. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have a formal definition for what makes a product "natural," they do have guidelines that states as long as a product does not have added color, artificial flavor, or synthetic substances the product could be labelled as "all natural." With the use of some synthetic ingredients PepsiCo clearly mislabeled their product and did not respect the FDA's guidelines of natural.

PepsiCo. logo, owner of Naked Juice

For Utilitarianism the most valuable emotion is happiness. Utilitarianism states that any action that tries to make everyone happy is ethical. PepsiCo may have tried to maximize the happiness of their consumers by offering an "all natural" product and thus tried to maximize their profits at the same time. That may seem good on the surface but the lawsuit highlights the unhappiness of the consumers in being misled about some of the ingredients in their juice product. The settlement tries to make up for this mislabeling by allowing the consumers to be reimbursed but that does not excuse PepsiCo's actions according to this theory. They intentionally labeled the Naked Juice product to make money but overlooked the part of the market that holds all natural products to a high standard in making sure that they do, in fact, contain all natural ingredients.

Kantianism states that businesses should always work within the rules, never consider themselves exempt from those rules, and help consumers make well informed choices for the good of everyone. This intrinsic value system to allow people to make rational, autonomous decisions is the cornerstone for this theory. PepsiCo had deliberately labeled their Naked Juice products as all natural to persuade consumers to choose that drink over other competing juice products. The all natural label worked to bring in consumers that were worried about making healthy drink choices but the questionable ingredients and their discrete inclusion in the Naked Juice products works to misinform the consumer. Under Kantianism PepsiCo makes an unethical choice in choosing the all natural label because of their use of some synthetic ingredients. The settlement shows that PepsiCo thought that they would be able to skirt by with the loose definition of "all natural", but when eventually called out for it they would rather pay up than go through a lengthy judicial process.

Virtue Theory
Donald M. Kendall, one of three founders of PepsiCo.

Virtue Theory uses four cornerstone characteristics: courage, honesty, self-control, and fairness. Courage marks a company's willingness to take chances and stand up for what is right. Honesty marks a company's truthfulness with their business actions. Self-control refers to a company's ability to create reasonable expectations and live up to those expectations. Fairness refers to a company's hard work and fair practice. PepsiCo definitely took a chance in labeling Naked Juice as "all natural" but when brought up to the lawsuit, they decided to drop the "all natural" label in favor for a "non-GMO" label. Yet PepsiCo was considerably truthful in their explanation for dropping the "all natural" label: "In some products, we also include an added boost of vitamins. Naked juice and smoothies will continue to be labeled 'non-GMO,' and until there is more detailed regulatory guidance around the word 'natural' -- we've chosen not to use 'All Natural' on our packaging." This is a fair explanation behind the use of the label and the lack of FDA definition for what a natural product is. As far as self-control goes PepsiCo failed to live up to the "all natural" expectations when some synthetic ingredients were found in their Naked Juice products. As far as Virtue Theory goes PepsiCo did good in how they handled the s
ituation once synthetic ingredients were found but their use of the "all natural" label from the beginning was dubious.

Conclusion Overall PepsiCo acted fair in their response but rather unethically in trying to use the all natural label when such a flimsy guideline was in place. By using this label they tried to create profits using an expectation of natural ingredients despite the existence of synthetic additives in their Naked Juice products. While not outright unethical it is rather dubious for PepsiCo to try to pass it off as all natural but in the end "non-GMO" may be the better label to accurately represent the drinks.


Kim, Susanna. "Naked Juice Class Action Settlement Offers Up to $75 Per Consumer."ABC News. ABC News Network, 27 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Long, Josh. "Naked Juice to Verify Non-GMOs under "All Natural" Settlement." Food Product Design., 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Sarich, Christina. "PepsiCo's Naked Juices Have to Drop 'All Natural' Label After $9 Million Class Action Lawsuit" Nation of Change., 23 July 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Tepper, Rachel. "Naked Juice Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Over Health Claims Means $9 Million For Consumers." The Huffington Post., 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014

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