The judge said Coca-Cola’s use of the word “healthy” on its Vitaminwater beverage violates regulations

The judge said Coca-Cola’s use of the word “healthy” on its Vitaminwater beverage violates regulations

The Coca-Cola Co has failed to win the dismissal of a lawsuit in which it is accused of making “deceptive and unsubstantiated” claims on bottles of its Vitaminwater brand.

Judge John Gleeson of the US District Court for the eastern district of New York ruled late last week that the suit, brought by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), should proceed, despite Coca-Cola's attempts to have the ruling dismissed.

Gleeson said Coca-Cola’s use of the word “healthy” violates the Food and Drug Administration’s regulations on vitamin-fortified foods and that Vitaminwater’s claim that the “focus” flavour "may reduce the risk of age-related eye disease” falls short of FDA regulations.

CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner said Coca-Cola is “exploiting” Americans’ desire to eat and drink more healthfully by “deceiving them into thinking that Vitaminwater can actually prevent disease”.

“Vitaminwater is no more than non-carbonated soda, providing unnecessary added sugar and contributing to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases,” Gardner said. “We look forward to representing all Americans whom Coke has deceived.”

However, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola has told just-drinks this week that the firm will reject the claims.

"The court's opinion was not a decision on the merits, but simply a determination that the case can proceed beyond the initial pleadings stage. We believe plaintiff's claims are without merit and will ultimately be rejected.”

Coca-Cola was forced by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority to scrap three poster adverts for Vitaminwater in October last year after the advertising watchdog ruled that they may mislead consumers.