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Federal Judge Says Sugar Association Suit Accusing Johnson & Johnson of False Advertising to Go Forward

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- A federal court in Los Angeles has opened the door to shining a harsh spotlight on the pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson, whose subsidiary McNeil Nutritionals has been accused of false advertising the controversial chemical sweetener Splenda. United States District Dale S. Fischer rejected Johnson & Johnson's request for summary judgment based on that charge that the plaintiffs had unreasonably delayed bringing suit, and said that the claims against Johnson & Johnson should be heard by a jury at a trial on the merits.

Andy Briscoe, President and CEO of the Washington-based Sugar Association, representing thousands of sugar farmers from across the nation, declared, "This ruling will give consumers a chance to hear the facts in this case. Consumers have a right to know what they really are buying and an equal right not to have a big corporation try to tell them something else. We look forward to the trial."

The central issue before the court is the deceptive nature of the advertising of Splenda -- a chemical sweetener -- to make consumers believe it is a natural product, including the use of the taglines, "Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar" and "Good for the Whole Family." Internal documents show Johnson & Johnson knew that its Splenda advertising was causing consumers to believe that Splenda, which is made using chlorine, is a natural product, despite it being chemical. Although rulings in France, Australia and New Zealand have found Johnson & Johnson's advertising of Splenda to be deceptive, the company continues to falsely promote Splenda as something that it is not.

Dan Callister, attorney for the Sugar Association, said, "We believe that the facts in this case are clear and compelling. For the second time, a jury will find that Johnson & Johnson has intentionally misled the consumer in its marketing of the chlorinated sweetener Splenda."

It has been estimated that damages in this case could reach $1-billion. The trial currently is scheduled to begin on January 29, 2008, in Los Angeles. Additional background information can be found at .

SOURCE Sugar Association
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