- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2005

Two companies yesterday settled food-labeling disputes with a Washington public health advocacy group.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest settled a lawsuit against Pepsico Inc. and stopped short of bringing one against Pinnacle Foods Corp. for what the group called “deceptive health claims.”

The group, often criticized as the “food police,” has used litigation as a tool against government agencies and food companies to pressure them into making changes to advance the center’s health agenda.

Michael Jacobson, the center’s executive director, called the settlements a victory. “I think companies want to avoid the adverse publicity that comes out of litigation,” he said.

Pepsico agreed to stop including the words “made with real fruit juice” on its Tropicana peach-papaya and strawberry-melon drinks.

The Purchase, N.Y., company said it will substitute those words with others such as “flavored juice drink” or “from concentrate with other natural flavors.”

“We’re open to listening to legitimate concerns, and this seemed like a reasonable concern,” said Danielle Vona, Pepsi-Cola North America’s director for juice and juice drinks.

The company, which expects the label changes to be made by January, also agreed to make a $100,000 donation to the American Heart Association in the settlement, Ms. Vona said.

While Pinnacle Foods did not offer money, the Cherry Hill, N.J., food manufacturer did agree to alter the package labeling for its Aunt Jemima frozen blueberry waffles.

The company, which owns brands including Duncan Hines and Swanson, will state on the package that the waffles are made “with imitation blueberries,” said Kelley Maggs, senior vice president and general counsel.

Pinnacle Foods also will highlight wording such as “artificially flavored” on the package, Mr. Maggs said.

“From the very beginning, we looked at the requests and suggestions and found they were reasonable,” Mr. Maggs said, adding that the advocacy group was not close to bringing a lawsuit.

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