Poppi Lawsuit Claims It May Not Be As Good For Your Gut As You Thought

Fans of Poppi, a ready-to-drink shrub, may soon find that their gut-friendly sodas are not as friendly as they think. San Francisco resident Kristin Cobbs filed a class action lawsuit against Poppi's parent company VNGR Beverage LLC in May, accusing it of false and misleading marketing claims. 

Poppi claims to be a better version of pop that busts several soda myths due to certain ingredients. Its cans also feature banners that read, "Be Gut Happy [and] Be Gut Friendly" (via CourtListener). This is because the drinks contain prebiotics — agave inulin to be precise — which may balance good and bad bacteria in the gut to improve overall digestive health.

However, the lawsuit points out that Poppi contains only two grams of inulin, which it alleges is too little to make any real difference. For the sodas to actually make good on their claims, you'd have to be drinking at least four cans a day. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the sodas contain large amounts of cane sugar and notes that even if you were to drink that much daily, the increased sugar intake would negate any of the inulin's health benefits (per Court Listener).

The lawsuit also cites several studies to highlight the side effects of consuming inulin itself. A mere 2.5 grams of prebiotics such as inulin can cause bloating, gas, and stomach discomfort, and consuming 10 to 30 grams of inulin every day for three weeks may lead to liver damage (via Court Listener).

What Poppi has to say about the lawsuit

Kristin Cobbs' lawsuit claims that Poppi fails to disclose the risks that are also associated with its ingredients. It also argues that Poppi never specifies the number of sodas that consumers would have to drink on a daily basis to feel any of its positive effects. The lawsuit says that these, among other allegations, breach California's Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the California Civil Code. As a result, Cobbs hopes for monetary compensation for herself and consumers like her, who she believes have been misled by Poppi's claims into purchasing the sodas.

In response to the lawsuit, the company told USA Today that, "We are proud of the Poppi brand and stand behind our products. We are on a mission to revolutionize soda for the next generation of soda drinkers, and we have diligently innovated to provide a tasting experience that millions of people have come to enjoy." The company further asserted, "We believe the lawsuit is baseless, and we will vigorously defend against these allegations."

What becomes of the lawsuit remains to be seen, but Poppi has become wildly popular in recent years, thanks in part to a string of viral TikTok videos, and its star-studded fanbase which includes the likes of JLo, Kylie Jenner, and Russell Westbrook. However, "Shark Tank" viewers may remember Poppi as Mother Beverage — a small company that walked away with a deal in 2018, which changed the course of its future forever.