Vitaminwater To Be Sued Over Bogus Health Claims

VitaminwaterYet, another beverage maker is being sued over their false and misleading marketing claims that their products are ‘healthy.’ A few months ago, POM Wonderful pomegranate juice was found guilty by the FTC of false advertising. Then last week, PepsiCo’s Naked Juice brand was forced to remove the “natural” label from its products. Today its Vitaminwater, owned by Coca-Cola. Vitaminwater has been embroiled in legal actions for years because the company has been accused of making false and misleading claims about the healthfulness of their products, including that Vitaminwater drinks helps prevent eye disease and boosts the immune system.

Is Vitaminwater actually healthy?

According to the AP, last week a Judge in New York ruled that consumers can proceed with a class-action lawsuit against Vitaminwater. This recent ruling allows for a suit to compel Coca-Cola to stop making certain claims about Vitaminwater drinks. The ruling also says that the suit against Vitaminwater can not receive financial damages.

This new ruling seems to be the final attempt of Coca-Cola to avoid a lawsuit. In 2010, another New York judge denied Coca-Cola’s attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed on technical grounds. At that time, the judge said Vitaminwater’s use of the word ‘healthy’ violates Food and Drug Administration labeling rules and took issue with the Vitaminwater brand name, which fails to identify sugar as a key ingredient in the drink.

Not that this is Vitaminwater’s first problem with its ingredient list.  According the AdAge, In 2009 six Vitaminwater flavors were found to contain ingredients impermissible or banned by the NCAA despite a huge sponsorship deal. At that time two Vitaminwater flavors (Rescue and Energy) were both banned because they contain caffeine or guarana-seed extract. Four other flavors (B-relaxed, Vital-T, Balance and Power-C) include impermissible substances such as Taurine, L-theanine, green-tea extract and glucosamine.

Written by Jennifer Kaplan

Jennifer Kaplan writes about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for Insteading (and before the two sites merged) and is the author of Greening Your Small Business. She is an Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone and was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster, an MFA and an MBA – follow her on Twitter.


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