Coca-Cola Co and the American Beverage Association trade group were sued on Wednesday for allegedly misleading consumers about the health risk of consuming sugary beverages.
The case was filed in a federal court in Oakland, California, U.S.
The non-profit Praxis Project accused the defendants of downplaying the risks to boost sales, despite scientific evidence linking sugary beverages to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Praxis accused both defendants of using euphemisms such as “balance” and “calories in, calories out” to mislead consumers. It also accused Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage company, of trying to mislead the public into thinking the lack of exercise was the real cause of obesity.
“The notion that Coke’s products can be part of a healthy-diet is imprinted in the minds of millions of people and requires corrective-action,” Maia Kats, the Litigation Director Of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) which helped file the lawsuit, said.
However, Coca-Cola Spokesman, Kent Landers, described the lawsuit as “legally and factually meritless.
“We take our consumers and their health very seriously and have been on a journey to become a more credible and helpful partner in helping consumers to manage their sugar consumption.”
The American Beverage Association also described the accusations as “baseless”, noting that “together with members, we are working with health groups to reduce consumers’ caloric and sugar intake from beverages.”
Wednesday’s lawsuit seeks to stop misleading marketing and requires more consumer warnings, among other remedies.
Filed in the federal court in Oakland, California. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Inc pledged to bolster efforts to reduce added sugar in beverages.