Are The Labels On Drinks Lying?


Jens De Decker

This is a photo of a celsius drink that contains preservatives. Image received from Unsplash.

Sarah Jones, Senior Staff

Can you trust what the labels on your drinks say? Celsius is an energy company that started in 2017 and has recently encountered two lawsuits that cost millions of dollars. Celsius was first in breach of an endorsement contract with the famous rapper Flo Rida who received 82.6 million dollars from the lawsuit filed against Celsius. Then the company received another lawsuit for mislabeling their drinks by saying they use no preservatives even though the drinks contain citric acid. 

Celsius is a 2017 energy drink company that presented its drinks with no preservatives, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or aspartame. This was shown to be false when it was discovered that the company uses citric acid, which is commonly used as a preservative and natural flavoring in a large percentage of drinks. In response to the allegations the company denied the claims and stated that the citric acid ingredient is only added to their drinks in order to add flavor, not as a preservative. Research has shown that despite the fact that citric acid is a natural antioxidant, the company still used a preservative while misleading people to think their drinks contained none. Instead of continuing with the lawsuit, the parties agreed on a settlement of 7.8 million dollars. Part of this settlement included that some of the money would go to people who bought the drinks, however, they would need receipts. The class-action settlement website states that the people eligible for money bought the drinks, “for personal or household consumption and not for resale or distribution.” You would have been eligible for money if you purchased a celsius drink from January 1, 2015, to November 12, 2022, and were able to get up to 250 dollars by February 13, 2023. 

Citric acid is an organic compound found in citrus fruits and can also be manufactured. According to a Medical News Today article by Katherine Marengo, “Citric acid acts as a preservative in many processed foods, keeping them fresh. It does this by slowing or helping prevent the formation of bacteria, mold, yeast, and fungus.”​​ Citric acid works well as a preservative because it maintains the color, flavor, and texture of the food while delaying its spoilage. It is also commonly used as a natural flavoring in various foods and beverages. According to the Spruce Eats article by Bethany Moncel, “About 50 percent of the world’s citric acid production is used as a flavor booster in beverages.” Sodas, juices, powdered beverages, and some dairy products fall into this category. Citric acid is beneficial to your body’s energy metabolism, mineral absorption, and the prevention or treatment of kidney stones, as shared by a  Very Well Fit article by Shereen Lehman. Other than water, there are a few drinks that do not contain citric acids, such as root beer, green tea, milk, and milk alternatives.

The settlement with Celsius came just weeks after hip-hop artist Flo Rida was awarded $82.6 million in a lawsuit against the company, stated the AP news article by David Fischer. He and his production company Strong Arm Productions, sued Celsius for breaking an endorsement contract with Flo Rida and even attempted to hide money from him. The musician told the Associated Press “Basically, I helped birth this company, and all we were looking for was some trustworthy people who acted as if they were family, And then when it comes down to the success of today, they just forgot about me.” Lawyers of Celsius argued in court that the company had reached its greatest success once the endorsement ended with Flo Rida. According to the press association, Flo Rida was a brand ambassador from 2014 to 2018, with a legal document initiating a lawsuit and alleging that his contribution introduced the company to a broader audience.

The Celsius company has recently faced two different lawsuits which cost millions of dollars. Celsius was accused of using preservatives in their drinks when they claimed to use none. This allegation proved to be true because they were using Citric acid as an ingredient which is a natural preservative. Celsius was also sued by the rapper Flo Rida for a breach of an endorsement contract. What other popular drinks contain preservatives or things they claim not to have?