Comedian John Oliver Skewers Food-Label Claims on New HBO Show


Oliver took jabs at POM Wonderful, Coke, Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats and Cocoa Krispies, & Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

British comedian John Oliver, host of HBO’s new show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” has some choice words about the current state of food-label claims. On his show this week, Oliver, who hails from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” highlighted the current Supreme Court case involving POM Wonderful, The Coca-Cola Company, and false-advertising allegations.

POM Wonderful is suing Coke, alleging that the company deceptively uses the words pomegranate and blueberry on its Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry 100% Fruit Juice Blend label, when in fact the drink contains very little pomegranate and blueberry juice. The Minute Maid label, however, already falls under FDA’s jurisdiction under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (as part of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act), which Coke says allows the company to name its product after fruits that may only be present in trace amounts to provide “characterizing flavor.” The Supreme Court will have to decide whether one company can still sue another over false advertising if a product label is already regulated by FDA.

For a more serious look at the issues, read our legal analysis on the POM v. Coca-Cola case here.

On his show, Oliver joked that “one of Coke’s actual arguments this week in the Supreme Court is that they’re allowed to give their product a name that refers to juices that provide the characterizing flavor-an argument that has the characterizing flavor of bullsh*t.”

“Clearly, we are now at a point where food companies feel no obligation to accurately represent what is in their products and what they do for you,” he also said, as well as, “It’s extremely rare for companies to be called to account for any of this.”

POM Wonderful and Coke weren’t the only targets of Oliver’s comedy; he also took jabs at Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats and Cocoa Krispies cereals and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Here is a link to video. (Warning! Contains some profanity.)


Jennifer Grebow
Nutritional Outlook magazine

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