FDA Says Coke Product Makes Illegal Health Claim

Says Diet Coke Plus 'Misbranded' Because It Implies Nutrient-Enrichment

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Food and Drug Administration is taking Coca-Cola to task for what it calls "misbranding" of Diet Coke Plus.

The FDA said because there is no standard for nutrients in carbonated beverages, Coke can't market the beverage as 'plus.'
The FDA said because there is no standard for nutrients in carbonated beverages, Coke can't market the beverage as 'plus.'
In a letter to Coca-Cola dated Dec. 10, the FDA said the marketing of Diet Coke Plus, which uses the "plus" to indicate the addition of vitamins and minerals, amounts to an illegal health claim. It said the word "plus" normally signals a food enriched with 10% more of the daily food intake for a particular nutrient than is standard. The FDA said because there is no standard for nutrients in carbonated beverages, Coke can't market the beverage as "plus."

'Nutrient-content claim'
"Your product is misbranded ... because it bears the nutrient-content claim 'plus' but does not comply with the regulations governing the use of this claim," said the letter. "The term 'plus' in 'Diet Coke Plus,' read in conjunction with the language 'Diet Coke with Vitamins & Minerals,' meets the definition of a nutrient-content claim because it characterizes the product's level of vitamins and minerals, which are nutrients of the type required to be in nutrition labeling."

In a March 2007 press release announcing the product launch, the company described it as "a sparkling, calorie-free beverage with vitamins and minerals," that is "a good source of vitamins B3, B6, and B12, and the minerals zinc and magnesium." Wieden & Kennedy is Diet Coke's agency.

Coca-Cola could not be reached for comment.

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