Coca-Colas Simply Orange is included in the lawsuit

Coca-Cola's Simply Orange is included in the lawsuit

The Coca-Cola Co has hit back at a lawsuit over the marketing of its orange juice brands after a US judge allowed the case to reach court.

The company claimed yesterday (4 March) that the plaintiffs will be unable to prove allegations that it misleads customers over the purity of its juice ingredients in Simply Orange, Minute Maid Premium and Minute Maid Pure Squeezed. It also warned that Friday's decision by a district court in Kansas City is not a final judgement. 

"This ruling is not a decision on the merits, but merely allows the plaintiff the opportunity to try to prove the allegations in their complaint,” Coca-Cola told just-drinks. “This they cannot do.”

The combined complaint was first lodged in August and includes plaintiffs from across the US. According to court documents, all allege that Coca-Cola falsely claims its brands Simply Orange, Minute Maid Premium and Minute Maid Pure Squeezed are “100% pure-squeezed, natural orange juice”, while they are actually “heavily processed, pasteurised, de-aerated and flavoured”.

In Friday's ruling, Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr said the allegations are sufficient to overcome Coca-Cola's counter-arguments, Bloomberg reported.

Yesterday, Coca-Cola defended its Minute Maid and Simply Orange brands, saying they are labelled in accordance with regulations. “This is a meritless case against which we will continue to vigorously defend ourselves,” the company said.

Last year, Coca-Cola was banned in the UK from using the word "nutritious" to describe its Vitaminwater brand after complaints it was misleading given that the drink contains 23g of sugar.