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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 8, August 2010, Posted On: 8/11/2010

Judge Gives Green Light For Vitaminwater Lawsuit

Emily Jed

NEW YORK CITY -- A federal judge has denied Coca-Cola Co.'s motion to dismiss a lawsuit over claims about the company's Vitaminwater fortified water beverages.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group, and consumers in three states allege that Coca-Cola has used misleading labeling on its Vitaminwater drinks line, including a claim that they reduce risks of disease. The beverage giant asked that the lawsuit be dismissed on technical grounds, but Judge John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court in New York said the case should proceed.

The judge said Vitaminwater's use of the word "healthy" violates Food and Drug Administration labeling rules. He also took issue with the drink's name, which does not make it clear that sugar is a key ingredient. Gleeson also rejected Coke's argument that disclosing sugar content on nutrition facts labels eliminates the possibility that consumers may be misled into thinking the product has only water and vitamins, and little or no sugar. Vitaminwater has 33g. of sugar in each 20-fl.oz. bottle.

CSPI is involved in another case against Coca-Cola over claims by the company that its Enviga green tea-flavored soft drink has "negative calories," thus promoting weight loss.

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