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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 7, July 2011, Posted On: 7/15/2011

Mediation Postponed For Coca-Cola VitaminWater Class Action Lawsuit

Emily Jed
Coke, Coca-Cola Co., The Center for Science in the Public Interest, VitaminWater lawsuit

ATLANTA -- Mediation between Coca-Cola and consumer advocacy group The Center for Science in the Public Interest over health claims on Coke's VitaminWater will be rescheduled now that a new "copycat" lawsuit has been filed against the soft drink giant, according to industry news website FoodNavigator-USA.

The CSPI's lawsuit, filed in 2009, brings together class action suits in New Jersey, New York and California alleging that Coca-Cola has misled consumers over the health benefits of VitaminWater.

Coca-Cola's motion to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected in 2010. The beverage giant agreed to enter mediation with the CSPI that was scheduled to begin on July 19 this year.

CSPI's legal director said the mediation will be postponed until the court can hear the new "copycat" lawsuit, and allow CSPI to negotiate "on behalf of the entire bunch of lawsuits." The mediation will likely be rescheduled for September or October, according to FoodNavigator-USA.

Federal judge John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, NY, rejected Coke's motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the soft drink giant's claim that its VitaminWater is a "vitamin-enhanced water beverage" and its slogan "vitamins + water = all you need" could mislead consumers into believing the drink contains only vitamins and water. He also rejected Coca-Cola's argument that by listing the sugar content of VitaminWater On the nutrition panel it could not be accused of misleading consumers. | SEE STORY

The judge also claimed Coca-Cola's use of the term "healthy" violated FDA regulations on vitamin-fortified foods. The rules prohibit companies from making health claims on foods that may be high in sugar and calories and lacking in nutrients and only meet various nutrient thresholds via fortification.

Coca-Cola, which acquired the Glaceau VitaminWater brand in 2007 through its acquisition of Energy Brands, has declined to comment on the case.

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