Poppi Soda Sued Over Gut Health Claims

A class action lawsuit was filed against the maker of popular prebiotic soda brand Poppi in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on May 29, 2024. The lawsuit centers around Poppi’s claims that the soda is “gut healthy” due to the inclusion of prebiotics in its drinks.

VNGR Beverage LLC manufactures, markets, and sells Poppi Prebiotic Sodas. Poppi was founded in 2016 as a healthy alternative to traditional sodas. The soda brand was featured on the popular television show Shark Tank on 2018, which caused a rise in the brand’s popularity. Poppi’s soda cans include the marketing language “For a Healthy Gut.” Poppi’s slogan is “Be Gut Happy.” The soda cans also market the fact that Poppi includes prebiotics in its drinks. As of 2024, Poppi’s sales figures have exceeded $100 million, which represents “19% in the US market share, even surpassing Coke by 1.5 times.”

The complaint alleges that Poppi’s drinks contain only two grams of prebiotics, “an amount too low to cause meaningful gut health benefits for the consumer from just one can.” The complaint further states that a consumer must consume four cans of Poppi sodas in a single day “to realize any potential health benefits from its prebiotic fiber.” However, “Poppi’s high sugar content would offset most, if not all, of these purported gut health benefits.” Further, Poppi sodas are “predominantly composed of ‘cane sugar,’. . . which has been shown to actually harm gut health.” The complaint states that since “ordinary consumers do not have expertise in pre- and probiotic science, they purchase. . . Defendant’s Products under the erroneous but reasonable belief that the Products are providing prebiotic gut benefits due to Poppi’s false and misleading Prebiotic Representations.”

The complaint cites multiple studies to support its claims that “most adults are able to consumer enough prebiotics through a variety of regular foods,” that “consuming too much insulin can lead to adverse health results,” and that consuming Poppi as a sole source of prebiotics does not contribute to significant changes on microbiome health. The complaint continues on to state that “consuming four or more Poppi sodas daily to gain prebiotic benefits has the potential to cause cramps, liver damage, and diarrhea,” and that consuming such a high amount of sugar “can irritate the gut, damaging the protective mucus lawyer and decreasing the amount of good bacteria.” The complaint states that Poppi does not disclose on its product packaging, labels, or advertisements “the number of Poppi’s that consumers would need to purchase before noticing any changes to their microbioime or the attendant risks of doing so.”

The complaint states causes of action for: (1) violation of California’s False Advertising Law; (2) violation of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act; (3) violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law; and (4) unjust enrichment. The complaint seeks relief in the form of (1) an order certifying the class; (2) an order finding in favor of the plaintiff and the class; (3) prejudgment interest on monetary awards; (4) an order of restitution and other equitable monetary relief; (5) injunctive relief; and (6) an award of attorneys’ fees, expenses, and costs.

Additional Reading

Poppi soda not as good for the gut as it claims, drinker says in lawsuit, NBC News (June 3, 2024)

Prebiotic soda brand accused of false health claims, Daily Journal (May 31, 2024)

Cobbs v. VNGR Beverage LLC (Case No. 3:2024cv03229)

Class Action Complaint in Cobbs v. VNGR Beverage LLC

Photo Credit: ZikG / Shutterstock.com