Nutrition Business Journal

Coca-Cola Company in hot water

The Coca-Cola Company has been served notice of a class action lawsuit over unsubstantiated marketing claims associated with the company’s VitaminWater beverage. 


The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed the suit, along with two other California law firms, because it feels the beverages actually promote obesity, diabetes and other health problems.

According to CSPI nutritionists, each bottle of VitaminWater contains 33 grams of sugar and between zero and one percent juice. At the heart of the debate will be whether or not the beverages contain enough of a specified ingredient to support the company’s marketing claims. Specifically, CSPI claims that some VitaminWater labels go beyond the FDA’s structure/function claim parameters. Examples cited in the company release include claims that “‘balance cran-grapefruit’ has ‘bioactive components’ that promote ‘healthy, pain-free functioning of joints, structural integrity of joints and bones’ and that the nutrients in ‘power-c dragonfruit’ ‘enable the body to exert physical power by contributing to the structural integrity of the musculoskeletal system.’”

One plaintiff, James Koh, said he felt misled by the company’s marketing. "When I bought VitaminWater, frankly I thought I was doing myself a favor health-wise. I was attracted by the prospect of getting extra vitamins. But I had no idea that I was actually getting almost a Coke’s worth of sugar and calories. There’s no way I would have spent money on that, had I known."

Coca-Cola acquired Glacéau and the VitaminWater brand in 2007 for $4.1 billion dollars. More recently, Coca-Cola purchased organic tea manufacturer, Honest Tea, in a deal featured in NBJ’s January issue.

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