Not so sweet: Equal takes Splenda to court
Says artificial sweetener maker is misleading customers with its claim that the product is 'made from sugar.'
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The makers of the country's two most popular artificial sweeteners head to court Monday, with Equal claiming newcomer Splenda is misleading consumers by telling them the product is made from sugar.
Merisant Co., the maker of Equal and NutraSweet, contends the maker of Splenda is guilty of false advertising with its "Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar" slogan, a person familiar with Merisant's case said Friday.
"Consumers deserve accurate information and competition requires an even playing field," Jonathan Cole, general council for Merisant, said in a statement. "Johnson & Johnson has advertised Splenda in a manner that misleads consumers."
"McNeil has always provided accurate and educational information to our customers," the company said in a statement. "McNeil has used the same promotional claims in all packaging and advertising since the product was introduced. These claims are true and in no way state or imply that Splenda contains actual sugar."
McNeil is expected to argue that "made from" sugar is not the same as "made with," according to a story in the New York Times.
But since Splenda doesn't actually list sugar as one of of the ingredients on the box, Merisant's argument is that Splenda shouldn't be able to claim that it's made from sugar, the person familiar with the case said.
Equal was once the dominant artificial sweetener in a $1.5 billion market and found its way into over 6,000 commercial products, the Times reported.
But Splenda has bumped Equal from its top spot, and now controls 62 percent of the U.S. market, the Times said.