Over the last week, Wal-Mart suffered a PR nightmare after it emerged that their aloe vera gel contained… well, no aloe vera.

Aloe vera can be put to various uses, though the product in question – Equate Aloe After Sun Gel – was ostensibly sold as an emollient for damaged skin.

However, the plant’s trio of chemical markers – acemannan, malic acid and glucose – were not present in tests carried out by Bloomberg News.

In lieu of the markers, the gel contained maltodextrin, a sugar sometimes used to imitate aloe.

It’s worth pointing out that Wal-Mart wasn’t the only company left blushing – Target, Walgreens and CVS were equally guilty of marketing store-brand aloe vera products of dubious authenticity.

The four big-name retailers have some 23,000 outlets between them.

Several legal firms have now mustered and filed lawsuits against the companies, seeking class-action status and restitution for customers who claim they were duped.