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FDA Criticizes Coca-Cola over "Diet Coke Plus" Label

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In an article appearing in some 30 papers and websites including the Washington Post, the AP (12/24, Perrone) reports that the FDA has "scolded" the Coca-Cola company "for placing inappropriate nutritional claims on its Diet Coke Plus soft drink." The label reads, "Diet Coke with Vitamins and Minerals," but "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." The FDA gave Coke ten days to respond with plans to correct the inconsistency. The Wall Street Journal (12/23, Rubenstein) Health blog added that the letter said "’the FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages.’ The letter warning Coca-Cola that Diet Coke Plus violates federal law was dated Dec. 10, but was published online today."

However, Dow Jones Newswires (12/23, Favole) reported that "Coca-Cola believes the label complies with the FDA’s policies and regulations, said Scott Williamson, a Coca-Cola North America spokesman. He said the company takes the FDA’s concerns seriously, while noting that the warning doesn’t involve any health or safety issues." Forbes (12/24, Reese, Rubillo) also reports on this story, noting that despite the initial dip in stock value on the announcement of the FDA’s admonishment, it could become "a classic case of ‘bad’ publicity likely becoming good publicity. There will be plenty of consumers that may now be interested in trying the drink."