McNeil Nutritionals, the company that markets Splenda sweetener in the US, has filed a court action in the US District Court in Delaware against The Sugar Association, claiming false advertising and deceptive trade practices.

McNeil said the lawsuit, which also names as defendants each of The Sugar Association's members, and Qorvis Communications, a public relations firm that represents The Sugar Association, was filed in order to stop The Sugar
Association and other defendants from "continuing to make false and misleading claims about the Splenda brand".

McNeil contends in the lawsuit that, "The Sugar Association and other defendants have knowingly and intentionally made false claims about the Splenda brand that are baseless and that are designed to injure its reputation and goodwill. The complaint seeks injunctive relief and damages for injury caused by defendants' false advertising campaign to date."

McNeil said the no calorie sweetener, which has been a success story since its launch in 2000, is the leading sugar alternative in terms of sales in the US. It also said the safety of sucralose, the sweetening ingredient of Splenda, is well documented and the sweetener has been approved for use in the US since 1999, and is also permitted for use in over 80 countries.

In the last few months five lawsuits have been filed against McNeil Nutritionals alleging the company uses deceptive and misleading advertisements and marketing terminology related to Splenda.

The Sugar Association, which filed one of the lawsuits, has said McNeil's advertising claim that "Splenda is made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar", leads consumers to think that Splenda is a natural sugar without the calories. 

"We feel the public needs to be aware that Splenda is an artificial chemical sweetener. Splenda is created with chlorine, and the final product does not have sugar in it," said James Murphy, counsel for The Sugar Association.