4:09pm

Thu March 10, 2011
The Two-Way

VitaminWater's Health Claims Spark Lawsuits In Canada

Sports drinks made by Vitamin Water are the target of potential class-action lawsuits in Canada, over claims that the vitamin-fortified drinks make false claims of being healthy. The CBC reports that the two lawsuits, which name VitaminWater's corporate parent, Coca-Cola, are in the early stages.

In one case, a Calgary man claims that he wouldn't have bought the drink if he'd known that it contains more than 30 grams of sugar. And court papers in Alberta show that the other complaint centers around VitaminWater's faux-scientific-geeky labeling, calling itself a "nutrient enhanced water beverage," according to the CBC.

And in something of a twist, both law firms that are filing the suits didn't want to talk to the CBC. But Coca-Cola did, if only to say that it will take "all necessary steps to vigorously defend" the company from any litigation — a phrase that's basically the corporate version of "bring it on."

The statement from Coke also noted that each bottle of VitaminWater lists the drink's ingredients and calories.

Here in the U.S., the Center for Science in the Public Interest is participating in a class-action lawsuit of its own against Coca-Cola over the VitaminWater brand.

A report by the CSPI cites the FDA's "jelly bean" rule, which "prohibits companies from making health claims on junk foods that only meet various nutrient thresholds via fortification. The judge also found that vitaminwater's claim on the 'focus' flavor of vitaminwater that it 'may reduce the risk of age-related eye disease' runs afoul of FDA regulations."

The CSPI case also faults the drinks for touting their juice content. Even with names like "endurance peach mango" and "focus kiwi strawberry," the CSPI says, "VitaminWater contains between zero and one percent juice."

If you thirst for the truth about water, a 2008 NPR story might interest you. It's called Five Myths About Drinking Water. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.