Lawyers who once drained tobacco companies of hundreds of millions of dollars have found a new target: food companies. Their latest lawsuits accuse major industry players like Heinz and PepsiCo of deceiving consumers with misleading labels or badly listed ingredients, the New York Times reports. Listing "evaporated cane juice" instead of sugar, for example, or listing "propellant" without saying it contains propane and butane, could be in violation of federal law.
Food companies dismiss the suits and note their occasional absurdity—like the claim that Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries failed to include real berries (that case was dismissed). But other groups have filed suit against food producers, creating a legal groundswell at a time when obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are straining health care coffers and alarming US officials. “Food companies will argue that these are harmless crimes—the tobacco companies said the same thing,” says a lawyer. "But to diabetics and some other people, sugar is just as deadly as poison."