As It Happens

'Made from real ginger': That's hogwash, says customer in Canada Dry lawsuit

A woman in New York state is suing Canada Dry over the lack of ginger in its ginger ale.

Soda pop reviewer Aaron Manahan says the company isn't breaking the law, but its claims are 'confusing'

Bottles of Canada Dry ginger ale are seen at the Safeway store in Wheaton, Maryland February 13, 2015. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)
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Canada Dry's ginger ale has a list of ingredients on each can, but ginger isn't among them. Now, one of the soda company's customers is suing.

Julie Fletcher filed a a federal lawsuit against Dr. Pepper, the owners of Canada Dry, alleging that they misled her by promoting "Made from real ginger" on their cans. 

The Buffalo News reports that Fletcher gave her children Canada Dry's ginger ale for stomach aches, believing it was made from ginger roots. When she found out it wasn't, she decided it was time the company paid up. 

Aaron Manahan, from Houston, Texas, reviews pops on his website The Soda Jerks. He spoke with As It Happens guest host Piya ​Chattopadhyay. Here is part of that conversation. 

Aaron Manahan said his go-to ginger ale is Reeds Ginger Brew. (Submitted by Aaron Manahan )

You have a can with you right now?  

Oh yes ma'am. I do enjoy Canada Dry. I don't use it for the ginger properties. I have other ... ginger sodas I drink for nausea relief because Canada Dry does not have an amount of ginger that would cause me to feel better.

OK. Can you do me a favour. Can you like rotate that can ... and look at the ingredients list for me and see if it says ginger there?

Well it's a short list so I'll read it if that's OK.

Go right ahead.

We have carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural flavours and caramel colour.

No Ginger.

No ginger on the ingredient list.

The product information from the Canada Dry website for their ginger ale. (canadadry.com)

So in the lawsuit filed by Julie Fletcher, she says one factor in her confusion about the product really stems from this 2011 commercial where this hunky ginger farmer pulls a ginger root out of the ground and then was pulled up through a cooler of Canada Dry. Do you think the public is being misled by advertising campaigns like this?

I do remember that advertising campaign and I can say as someone who was regularly drinking Canada Dry at that time, they sold me again on a product I was already using.

It was a very effective advertising campaign on me and I'm aware of how much… ginger is in Canada Dry compared to other ones. It is misleading in that regard.

But at the same time ... I'm sure ginger is used in the creation of the soda.

There was a similar lawsuit in Missouri, which was dismissed in June, that said lab tests reveal that Canada Dry does not contain ginger but the company argued that ginger is used to make the natural flavouring in the drink. Can you explain what this could mean?

Well in creating the flavour of Canada Dry they use the... ingredient of ginger. It doesn't necessarily mean that ginger is in the drink itself. It just means that it was used in the creation.

You could run your water over ginger and use the water that's on the other side of its path to the ginger. That would technically be using ginger.

So as you said...you kind of get where Ms Fletcher's coming from. But do you think she's got any chance that she will win in court?  

I do not. That said, I review sodas.

Legal is not my forte but I've seen a little bit of Internet chatter here and there and... at one side you see that the lawsuit seems frivolous. Why are you suing about this?

But on the other side, how do you get this to change? Even if the lawsuit causes them to write something on the can along the lines of "product does not contain ginger," that is a win.

Where do you turn to when you've got an upset stomach? What ginger ale do you reach for?

I reach for .... Reeds Ginger Brew.

You can see the sediment of the ginger floating in it. There's no question if there's ginger in that soda.

Written by Sarah Jackson. Produced by Samantha Lui. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 

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