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CSPI alleges VitaminWater claims false

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

One month after FDA sent a letter to Coca-Cola warning that the beverage firm misbranded its Diet Coke Plus, the Atlanta-based firm's VitaminWater is the target of a proposed class action lawsuit. This time, the Center for Science in the Public Interest files a suit in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California alleging the company falsely advertises its VitaminWateras a healthy alternative to soda. Each bottle of VitaminWater has 33 grams of sugar and makes claims that "go far beyond even the loose, so-called 'structure/function claims' allowed by" FDA, CSPI says in a Jan. 15 release. Coca-Cola could not be reached for comment. FDA has warned that Diet Coke Plus does not contain enough nutrients for a "plus" claim (1"The Tan Sheet" Jan. 5, 2009, p. 9)

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A federal judge denies Coca-Cola's motion to dismiss the Center for Science in the Public Interest's lawsuit alleging the firm makes deceptive and unsubstantiated claims for the VitaminWater line. In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Judge John Gleeson also found the firm's use of the word "healthy" violates FDA regulations on vitamin-fortified foods. According to CSPI, the judge found the claim "May reduce the risk of age-related eye disease" for the line's "focus" flavor may not comply with FDA regulations. The consumer advocacy group, which filed suit against Coca-Cola in January 2009, says the judge rejected the Atlanta-based global food and beverage firm's argument that disclosing sugar content on Nutrition Facts labels eliminates a possibility consumers may be "misled into thinking the product has only water and vitamins, and little or no sugar" (1"The Tan Sheet" Jan. 19, 2009, In Brief)

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