By Matthew Perrone
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Federal health regulators have scolded Coca-Cola for placing inappropriate nutritional claims on its Diet Coke Plus soft drink. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter objecting to the product's labeling, which describes the drink as "Diet Coke with Vitamins and Minerals."
Regulators said the beverage does not have enough nutrients to justify the use of the word "plus" in its name. According to the agency, foods labeled "plus" must have at least 10 percent more nutrients than comparable products. Additionally, the FDA said it is inappropriate to add extra nutrients to "snack foods such as carbonated beverages."
In the Dec. 10 letter, the FDA called on Coca-Cola to revise the drink's labeling and inform the agency of its plans within 15 days of receiving the message. The FDA posted the letter online yesterday.
Coca-Cola said it will respond to the FDA in early January but has no plans to change the label. "This does not involve any health or safety issues, and we believe the label on Diet Coke Plus complies with FDA's policies and regulations," said spokesman Scott Williamson.
The company launched Diet Coke Plus in March 2007.
The FDA regularly issues warning letters to companies that do not follow regulations for manufacturing and marketing. The letters are not legally binding, but the agency can take companies to court if they are ignored.
Shares of Coca-Cola Co. closed at $43.97, down 1.6 percent.