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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Misleading Marketing and Chemical Sugar Substitutes

Note: The OCA urges consumers to send a similar letter to the FTC, regarding Splenda's advertising practices. Please feel free to use our letter as a template, print up and mail to the address below:

February 24, 2005

Division of Advertising Practices
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20580

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), I would like to submit a formal complaint against the deception-filled marketing campaign being conducted by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Nutritionals for its artificial sweetener Splenda. The marketing campaign, which continually uses the word "sugar," is designed to confuse consumers into believing that Splenda is a low-calorie natural sweetener. The OCA advocates for clear, truthful labeling and advertising, and J&J's marketing campaign thumbs its nose at those ideals.

Splenda is made through a complex chemical process that involves toxic chemicals, including phosgene gas. That's hardly a process anyone would link to a natural product. But, through its marketing campaign, J&J is trying to do just that.

J&J understands that more and more consumers are trying to buy natural, organic products. Consumers are trying to eat healthy, natural foods and are closely watching what they put in their bodies. Unfortunately, J&J is attempting to cash in on this trend by deceiving consumers that its product, Splenda, is natural. But Splenda doesn't grow in a field like sugar cane or sugar beets, it's made in a huge chemical plant. By using deliberately confusing marketing techniques, J&J is hurting family farmers across the country who can't compete with chemicals masquerading as natural products.

The most troubling aspect of J&J's misleading marketing campaign is that it has been successful. The Center for Science in the Public Interest learned in a poll that nearly half of Americans have been taken in by J&J's deceptions and believe that Splenda is a natural ingredient. They don't seem to realize that the final product does not contain any sugar whatsoever.

OCA urges consumers to read labels carefully. Whether it's genetically-engineered food or chemically processed additives, consumers shouldn't be led to believe that the products they are buying are natural and come from the earth. Sadly, J&J's campaign hinders consumers' ability to ferret out the truth about Splenda.

Ronnie Cummins - National Director


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