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Originally published July 24 2013

Coca-Cola facing huge class action lawsuit over alleged false claims for Vitaminwater

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) For years, the Coca-Cola Company has been deceptively marketing its "vitaminwater" beverage brand as a healthy alternative to plain water and sugary soda beverages, making outlandish claims that the drink can help boost immunity and even help people fight eye disease. But now the beverage giant is facing a monstrous class-action lawsuit over this marketing racket, none of which is true about the sugar-laden junk food drink.

The suit, which was originally filed back in 2010 by the nonprofit health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), alleges that Coca-Cola has been engaged in what can only be described as blatant labeling fraud. Vitaminwater's "Power-C" flavor, for instance, claims to deliver "zinc and vitamin C to power your immune system," while the "XXX" flavor is branded as containing "antioxidant vitamins to help fight free radicals and help support your body."

Both claims are an immense exaggeration, as these two vitaminwater products are composed primarily of water, sugar, and a handful of synthetic vitamins, which is hardly a recipe for robust immunity. And yet this is the overall image being portrayed by Coca-Cola for its vitaminwater line of beverages, which is really nothing more than glorified soda pop without carbonation.

"The marketing of vitaminwater will go down in history as one of the boldest and brashest attempts ever to affix a healthy halo to what is essentially a junk food, a non-carbonated soda," says Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director of CSPI. "Vitaminwater, like Coca-Cola itself, promotes weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cannot deliver on any of the dishonest claims it has made over the years."

The class action originally sought monetary damages for vitaminwater's misleading branding, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy in Brooklyn, New York, recently decided that this would not be allowed as part of the case. Since individual damages are likely small, and because there are obvious variations in how much money each individual would be entitled to receive, Judge Levy decided that the plaintiffs simply do not have an adequate damages model that can be used to effectively distribute damages.

Coca-Cola to face jury trial for tricking consumers into thinking vitaminwater can heal disease

At the same time, Judge Levy did announce that the suit itself appears valid, and recommended that Coca-Cola face the accusations in court. The case will now move on to U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry for approval, and is expected to eventually go to trial based on Judge Levy's recommendations. If everything goes as intended, Coca-Cola will soon have to defend its vitaminwater claims in court before a jury, which CSPI believes will be a major tipping point for Coca-Cola's branding of vitaminwater.

"(Thursday's decision) puts this case on a glide path toward a jury trial where Coca-Cola will have to defend under penalty of perjury the deceptive claims it has made and continues to make in connection with vitaminwater," said CSPI Litigation Director Steve Gardner in a recent statement. "That will put the company in the awkward position of squaring its marketing of vitaminwater as a healthy, disease-fighting drink with its later assertion that 'no reasonable consumer' would ever believe such marketing."

Coca-Cola is not alone in being sued for deceiving the public about the health benefits of its products. As we reported back in 2012, a California woman filed a class action lawsuit against Frito-Lay for labeling its snack chips, which are loaded with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and other poisons, as "all natural." Frito-Lay even went so far as to claim that the GM oils used in its snack chips may help prevent heart disease.

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