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Johnson & Johnson faces lawsuits over Splenda

IMPORTANT SPLENDA LAWSUIT: © Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained in this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.

J&J faces lawsuits over Splenda marketing campaign By Sophie Walker

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson is facing a raft of lawsuits over a marketing campaign related to its artificial sweetener Splenda, which accuse the company of misleading buyers to believe Splenda is a natural product.

Splenda, which has enjoyed rapid sales growth on the back of a boom in low-carbohydrate eating in the last couple of years, is marketed by J&J's McNeil Nutritionals Worldwide division with the line: "Splenda No Calorie Sweetener is made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar."

But the Sugar Association says the marketing pitch does not accurately reflect the end product and is misleading because it gives the impression that Splenda contains natural sugar.

McNeil faces three class-action suits from individuals, one from the Sugar Association and one from Merisant Worldwide Inc, the maker of rival low-calorie sweetener products including Equal and Canderel.

"Johnson & Johnson is misinforming consumers about the reality of the chlorinated product Splenda," said James Murphy, counsel for the Sugar Association, whose lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, a nationwide injunction and corrective advertising.

"We feel the public needs to be aware that Splenda is an artificial chemical sweetener. Splenda is created with chlorine, and the final product does not have sugar in it," he said.

Splenda's Web Site ( says the product is made "through a patented process that starts with sugar and converts it to a no calorie, noncarbohydrate sweetener. The process selectively replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms."

A spokeswoman for McNeil Nutritional told Reuters that the lawsuits had no merit.

"Consumers are utilizing no-calorie sweeteners versus other sweeteners like sugar, and you would have to draw your own conclusions about why now these efforts are being launched." said Monica Neufang, director of communications for McNeil,

"We have never represented Splenda as being natural," she said.


Splenda has just over 50 percent of the U.S. market for low calorie sweeteners, based on dollar volume, according to data collected by IRI and made available to Reuters by McNeil.

It is used in products which include Kool-Aid Jammers 10 tropical Punch drink, produced by Kraft Foods .

"Obviously, any organization that represents the sugar growers of the world would like to have people know what they are buying when they are buying a sweetener," said Dan Collister, attorney at Squire, Sanders and Dempsey, acting for the Sugar Association.

Separately, the Texas Consumer Association said on Monday it had asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate the Splenda marketing campaign.

"With consumers across the country concerned about their health and trying to eat more natural foods, it is alarming that McNeil is engaged in an underhanded campaign to confuse consumers into believing Splenda is natural," commented Sandra Haverlah, president of the Texas Consumer Association.

Haverlah said she was working with the Consumer Federation Network and was not associated with the groups bringing suits against Splenda.

No one from Merisant was available for comment. 01/31/05 19:22 © Copyright Reuters Ltd.

Posted on February 23, 2005 in News | Link To This Entry | Comments (7)


Posted by: Ann Marie on March 8, 2005 3:25 PM

I really have to say I am surprised by this article! I was under the assumtion that Splenda was a natural lwo calorie sugar. I have family members who are using it under the same assumtion and will save this article for them to read I am sure they will be just as surprised as I was!
I guess you really have to ask yourself could there really be a natural low calorie sugar!
I will be reading the other articles about this!


Posted by: Dr. Janet Starr Hull on March 13, 2005 8:45 PM

One of the reasons Johnson & Johnson is receiving negative publicity about Splenda is due to the fact they are marketing sucralose as a benign sugar sweetener. They avoid the fact that in order to make it low calorie, they remove three sugar molecules and insert chlorine molecules in their place. They also neglect to make known that they use an array of toxic chemicals such as acetone and benzene to complete this manufacturing process. Remember, if a product is not from nature, question its longterm health safety. Stick with the real thing - natural sugar - in moderation. - Janet Hull


Posted by: frances on March 19, 2005 10:27 PM

This law suit is goofy. Splenda is being sued for not being sugar. It is. It is printed right on the package that it is. Dextrose is defined in webster's dictionary as being corn sugar. Dextrose is the first word in the ingredient list on the yellow packet. This means that sugar is the most of what is in it. People buy this stuff to lose or control weight. Corn is fed to hogs to make them fat. What a hoot. If the lawyers are smart splenda could win this suit,but invalidate the use of the product in doing so.


Posted by: Dr. Janet Starr Hull on March 22, 2005 6:40 PM

Well, you are right, sort of. The dextrose in Splenda is an added ingredient. The dextrose and maltodext just round out the flavor profile of both aspartame and sucralose. The chemical compound itself is sweeter than either of them (dextrose), and so they don’t need as much of it. But, it is an addition to a “sugar-free” product that doesn’t make since, does it? The sucralose molecule has 4 sucrose atoms, but three are removed and replaced with chlorine. They use chemicals such as benzene, acetone, and ammonia (to name a mere few) to place the chlorine and hold it in. So, the added dextrose is an oxymoron, isn’t it?


Posted by: Jim Earles on March 29, 2005 11:00 AM

I'd just like to point out the irony here that the makers of one toxic product (Splenda) are being taken to task by the makers of another toxic product (refined white sugar). It reflects the sad state of affairs in modern nutrition that the public has supposedly been fooled into believing that Splenda is "natural" because it is manufactured from white sugar--a decidedly unnatural product itself. As Dr. Janet Starr Hull pointed out above, what we need to use is natural sugar, in moderation. This includes unrefined products like Rapadura or Sucanat, or others like raw honey, maple syrup, molasses, sorghum, etc. And let's not complete this discussion without mentioning that there are a few good no-cal/low-cal sweetening options to be found in nature...most prominently stevia, but also including Lo Han Guo and others which may be read about in detail at


Posted by: Dr. Janet Starr Hull on April 26, 2005 9:42 PM

I agree! Prior to WWII, eating was a family affair, celebrating the gathering of the family after a long day at work or school. This sounds like “Leave It To Beaver” these days, and it is hard to gather the family together to sit at a meal. But that’s no excuse not to provide whole foods to eat, even if you are on the run.

Natural foods are what nature intended humans to eat – whether meat or vegetables. Real food has natural sweetness and natural sodium flavors. After the War, the more modern societies started refining foods and mass marketing processed food products for big profits. Over the past 40 years, America’s foods have gone downhill, and it isn’t getting any better. We must stop dead in our tracks and question what we are doing to ourselves. We eat to make the corporations money. Let’s support the smaller farmer for a change. It’s like we’re living to eat – not eating to live.

If you step back and return to eating real foods – you’ll learn to appreciate the natural flavoring and sweetness of food again. Sounds old school, doesn’t it? But humans haven’t evolved past the need to feed their bodies the real thing. We have a long road ahead turning the younger generation away from an “addiction” to chemical foods, though. It’ll take all of us to do it, but the time is now before we’ve gone way too far off track.


Posted by: Vivian Burden on February 8, 2006 7:51 AM

I need to find out about any class action suits for medical. I have suffered greatly and have residual affects that will last a lifetime from consumption of this product. Help Please.


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