A Sour Battle: Splenda and the Sugar Industry

December 3, 2007

Sometimes its hard to believe what supposedly smart companies and organizations with expensive and smart lawyers do. Splenda is in a battle against sugar producers over “false advertising.” The issue is whether Splenda stating that their claim of “made from sugar, tastes like sugar” constitutes false advertising.

I had no idea how they made Splenda. I just know that it has let me enjoy some foods I really like without all the calories of sugar, and frankly, to me it does taste like sugar while some in my family (with admittedly more refined taste buds than mine) say it doesn’t–at all. Turns out, it does come from sugar. Chemically modified to eliminate the calories without the sweetness using chlorine. Now I don’t really like the idea of my sugar dipped in chlorine, but I do have pretty high confidence that if there wasn’t something safe about it somebody would be screaming bloody murder by now. Most likely the sugar folks. But they aren’t screaming about safety directly, they are screaming that Splenda says their product comes from sugar and tastes like sugar. Well, it does come from sugar, and at least one consume (me) thinks it tastes very much like sugar.

So what the heck is this big false advertising lawsuit all about? What damage do they think they can cause other than causing Splenda to spend a bunch of money on lawyers like they are doing? Ah, the lawsuit says that the company (owned by Johnson and Johnson by the way) uses “phosgene gas–a deadly weapon used in World War I” to create Splenda. Still, no safety claims to this lawsuit–but maybe it is just a clever way to get their accusation about using WWI weapons of mass destruction technology to kill us all. In this case, it is PR strategy disguised as legal action. I’ve seen it before, defended against it before and I found it disgusting then and even more disgusting in this case.

Come on lawyers (and sugar clients), give us a break. If it’s made from sugar and tastes like sugar, it ain’t false advertising.

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