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Welch Foods faces labels lawsuit


The marketing arm of a grape farmers' cooperative faces a lawsuit accusing the company of misbranding juice to the detriment of consumers.


Two consumers have filed a legal complaint against Welch Foods, owned by the National Grape Cooperative, alleging the company violated state and federal laws against false advertising.


The cooperative referred questions to Welch Foods, but Capital Press was unable to reach the company's spokesperson for comment.


According to the complaint, filed by California residents Elizabeth Park and Carolyn Otto, the company makes claims of "no sugar added" despite adding ingredients that increase the juice's sugar content.


The complaint also alleges that Welch Foods claims its juices contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives even though ascorbic acid, citric acid and sodium citrate are included to help preserve the juice and impart a tart flavor.


In 2011, Welch Foods earned a net income of nearly $25 million on sales of nearly $641 million, according to its annual report. That represents decreases of about 9 percent in net income and nearly 3 percent in sales from the prior year.


-- Mateusz Perkowski



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