- Coca-Cola Co. has agreed to tweak the labels for its Vitaminwater brand to settle a six-year lawsuit that alleged misleading health claims for the flavored water products. The settlement is pending court approval.
- Coca-Cola would add the words "with sweeteners" in two places on Vitaminwater bottles, and the label would give calorie counts a more pronounced display. The company would have to begin the label changes within three months and complete them in two years.
- The company "would also stop making some claims about the beverages, including the phrase 'vitamins + water = all you need' and that drinking Vitaminwater may improve metabolic or immune functions or reduce the risk of eye disease," Reuters reported.
What created issues with allegedly misleading health claims was the amount of sugar Vitaminwater contains. "The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group that filed the suit with private law firms on behalf of consumers in 2009, had noted that the drinks have 33 grams of sugar and negligible amounts of juice, despite coming in flavors such as kiwi-strawberry and acai blueberry pomegranate," Associated Press reported.
Per the settlement, Coca-Cola will not provide a money to consumers, but the company will pay up to $2.7 million to cover attorneys' fees and expenses for the plaintiffs.
"We are pleased to reach an amicable resolution of these cases," a Coca-Cola spokeswoman said in a statement. "Although we remain confident in our legal position, it simply made no sense to continue this costly legal battle."
Mislabeling lawsuits are not uncommon in the food industry today, especially when it comes to companies making "organic" and "all natural" claims.