Bai Brands is a beverage company that makes low-calorie soft drinks that they claim are all-natural and have no artificial sweeteners. In 2016, Justin Timberlake invested in the company, becoming its first “Chief Flavor Officer.” He’s proceeded to become a spokesman for the drink, starring in an advertisement that ran during the 2017 Super Bowl and a recent ad where he extols the virtues of “braspberries,” or blueberries stuffed inside of raspberries.
But the company is the target of a class-action lawsuit that was filed last month against Bai Brands, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Dr. Pepper president Larry Young and Bai founder Ben Weiss. And as The Blast points out, the lawsuit was recently amended to add Justin Timberlake as a defendant.
All of their products contain malic acid, which is a flavor additive that tastes like tangy fresh fruit. According to the suit, Bai Brands uses malic acid as a flavoring agent rather than a flavoring enhancer, which they argue means it acts as an artificial flavor, per Food Navigator USA. The class action suit is one of a number of suits filed by the same California law suit against companies like Campbell Soup, Kellogg’s, and Frito-Lay, all alleging that they used malic acid in a similar way and that it should be labeled as such.
The lawsuit, however, says that Timberlake and the rest of the named parties participated in an alleged fraud: “Defendant Bai and Defendant Timberlake knowingly entered into a single agreement and/or multiple agreements to commit fraud and other unlawful acts by agreeing to promote artificially flavored beverage products as if they were solely naturally flavored without synthetic chemical ingredients.” And it adds that Timberlake’s investment and commercial appearances “aided this scheme.”
The lawsuit is asking that the company and Timberlake give up any money received because of what they say is improper labeling, along with punitive damages.