Coca-Cola, the manufacturers of Vitaminwater, were originally sued by the CSPI in 2009, alleging that it was being deceptively labeled and marketed as a health product. Indeed, Vitaminwater claims have included the slogans “keep you healthy as a horse,” and promising a “healthy state of physical and mental well-being.”
Vitaminwater labeling has also claimed that the drink could promote healthy joints, reduce eye disease risk and aid in “optimal immune function.” In reality, Vitaminwater contains approximately 33 grams of refined sugar, the same sugar content as a 16 ounce cup of Coke from a soda fountain, and minimal, artificial vitamins.
According to CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, “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 good, a non-carbonated soda. 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.”
Coca-Cola’s defense of the lawsuit has been quite self-contradictory. First, attorneys for the company stated in response to the allegations that, “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” This begs the question: why call it Vitaminwater if it’s not supposed to be considered healthy?
Then, Coca-Cola released the following statement: “We firmly believe the plaintiff’s claims are without merit and will ultimately be rejected. Vitaminwater is a great tasting, hydrating beverage with essential vitamins and water – and labels clearly showing ingredients and calorie content.”
It will be interesting to see which defense Coca-Cola will attempt to use next. United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy has recommended that the CSPI can litigate for declaratory and injunctive relief, but cannot sue for damages.
The next court battle will be held at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
So, if Vitaminwater is out for you and your family, what are some healthy options? Of course, the best option is just fresh, filtered water, however, you can also try warm lemon water, healthy herbal teas, which you can sweeten with a little coconut sugar or raw stevia, or even try tossing a couple frozen berries into a cup of filtered water.
Remember to check all labels and stay away from drinks that contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup. When you choose these you are wasting your money and crippling your long-term health.