2/08/2005

Sweet Sweet Litigation

I was on the Atkins diet for a while, and while I was on it I stopped using sugar in my coffee and started using Splenda. To me, and apparently to many other Americans, Splenda tastes better than sugar. Well, the sugar industry can't have that - the U.S. Sugar Association is suing Splenda's manufacturer.

This latest lawsuit, filed in December, hinges on “deceptive and/or misleading representations”, made by the sweetener firm in “advertisements and marketing terminology” to consumers, says the association.

Merisant, the US maker of tabletop sweetener Equal and NutraSweet and a competitor to Splenda, alleged in November that the product’s marketing slogan, “made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar,” had mislead consumers into thinking the artificial sweetener was “natural.”

But McNeil Nutritionals asserts that sucralose starts off as pure cane sugar, and is then chemically altered in the manufacturing process to create a new compound with zero calories and 600 times sweeter than sugar.
The Sugar Association's website points out that Splenda is "created with chlorine and other chemicals" without mentioning that table salt is also created with chlorine. But, since salt doesn't compete with sugar, this isn't important.

Time was that sugar substitutes only competed with each other for market share, because none of them were particularly good. Sucralose, the sweetener in Splenda, is very good; so good that it's used in over 3,500 products and is cutting into sugar's market share. Hence, the lawsuit.

A Splenda spokesperson, had this to say: "From our perspective, whatever the outcome of the litigation, sucralose will still be made from sugar, and still taste like sugar."