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Coca-Cola accused of misleading consumers about sugary drinks

DBR Staff Writer Published 05 January 2017

Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association (ABA) have been sued for allegedly misleading consumers about the harms of consuming sugary beverages.

The lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California by the nonprofit Praxis Project in collaboration with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

In a 40-page complaint, the soft drinks giant has been accused of misleading and confusing consumers regarding the science linking sugary drinks consumption to obesity, type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. This it stated was allegedly being done in co-operation with ABA.

The Praxis Project executive director Xavier Morales said: “We are tired of trying to counter the deep pocket advertising that misleads our communities regarding the dangers of regularly consuming sugary drinks.

“The price our community pays through decreased health, increased diabetes, and amputations is too high. Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Industry need to stop their predatory marketing and they also need to stop misleading our communities through their false health claims and continued masking of the insidious health effects of consuming sugared water.”

The complaint calls Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy to be sophisticated and multi-faceted while alleging further that the company had got paid scientific research to favor its arguments and also deceptive press releases from ABA to sing its tune.

CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said: “Coca-Cola executives have known for years that their products undermine health. 

“Nevertheless, for years they have mounted a multi-million-dollar effort to persuade consumers that their products are benign—even healthful.   We hope the end result of this litigation will be that consumers will be permanently protected from Big Soda’s fraudulent marketing.”

In its complaint, Praxis has accused Coca-Cola of running false and misleading advertising campaigns to push its point across to consumers with a $120m budget allocated on research and projects to serve the purpose between 2010 and 2015.

The lawsuit wants Coca-Cola and ABA to cease from engaging in the unfair and misleading marketing of sugary beverages.

Additionally, it also wants the court to rule that the two parties have to reveal all corporate documentation and communications about the impact caused by the sugary drinks and obesity to health, and also to finance a corrective education campaign to bring down their consumption in public.

Image: Coca-Cola faces a lawsuit accusing it of running misleading campaigns on sugary beverages. Photo: courtesy of Center for Science in the Public Interest.