Coca-Cola Co settles Vitaminwater health row
Coca-Cola acquired Vitaminwater in 2007
The Coca-Cola Co is to alter the labeling of its Vitaminwater brand in the US, in order to settle a lawsuit over health claims.
Labels will now include the words “with sweeteners” in two places, where the brand’s name appears, according to non-profit organisation the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which brought the class action lawsuit. The company can also no longer claim that the product provides health benefits.
If approved, a proposed settlement agreement filed late last week in federal court would end a legal battle that began in 2009.
A statement from the Center for Science in the Public Interest said the proposed agreement prohibits a number of statements that have been used on Vitaminwater labels in recent years, including: “vitamins + water = what’s in your hand,” “vitamins + water = all you need,” and “this combination of zinc and fortifying vitamins can … keep you healthy as a horse.” The agreement also bans Vitaminwater labels from claiming that the drink is formulated to “support optimal metabolic function with antioxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic diseases,” or that it may reduce the risk of age-related eye disease or promote healthy joints, immune function, feelings of relaxation, or a “healthy state of physical and mental being”.
Coca-Cola, which will also pay around $2.7m to cover costs, will begin making the changes within three months, with a view to completing them within two years, according to the CSPI.
"We are pleased to reach an amicable resolution of these cases," said a spokesperson for Coca-Cola. "Although we remain confident in our legal position, it simply made no sense to continue this costly legal battle."
The soft drinks industry continues to be scrutinised for its sugar use. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola revealed that it has spent almost US$120m on health research and programmes since 2010.
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