Coca-Cola Rejects FDA Regulations
In an American diet of hot dogs and potato chips, nothing goes better
with a plate of salty food than a nice cold soda. We consume more
soda on average than any other country. According to a 2005 survey
published in Beverage Digest, over 10 billion cases of soda were purchased
in one year alone. On average that guarantees two and a half 12-ounce
cans of soda for every adult and child in the United States every
day. Needless to say we have an addiction to sugary, carbonated beverages
and there should be no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic.
A new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning tells Coca-cola to
check their regulation book again, and change one of their products.
Diet Coke has been around since 1982 when it was born on supermarket
shelves and mini mart coolers on Independence Day, the biggest (and
often warmest) day of the year for outdoor activitie,s from picnics
and barbeques to Frisbee, softball, and firework-watching. Since then,
Diet Coke has been the staple for a calorie-free alternative to Coke,
with many other brands trying to close the gap. Diet Coke debuted
with cheers because there was no sugar added and only relied on artificial
sweeteners which provided the same comfort of soda without foregoing
taste for calorie-watchers or diabetics. However, what they took away
they made up for in caffeine. An average can of Diet Coke has 42 milligrams
of the stimulant versus 35 for regular Coke.
Diet Coke Plusnamed Coca-Cola Light Plus outside the U.S.was released
in 2007 and marketed with the description, “Diet Coke with Vitamins
and Minerals.” Claiming the drink is fortified with 25 percent of
the daily intake value for niacin, vitamins B6, B12, and 15 percent
of zinc and magnesium.
On December 10, the FDA issued a warning letter to Coca-cola President
and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Muhtar Kent claiming that Diet Coke
Plus violates the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA)
by printing the word “plus” on their labels. The FDA goes on to say
that a soft drink is not considered a healthy beverage and cannot
justify using the word in its name. According to the wording of the
FDCA, foods containing nutrients must provide at least 10 percent
more of the Daily Reference Value (DRV) also known as the Reference
Daily Intake (RDI) for it to legally be considered “plus.”
The FDCA is a compilation of laws set in 1938 by Congress giving the
principal authority to the FDA to regulate food, drugs and cosmetics.
The FDCA has been amended many times and most recently in response
to new regulations regarding bioterrorism.
The FDA also considers it to be inappropriate to add nutrients to
a snack food like sodas. Coca-Cola has been asked to fix the violation
and revise the label by excluding the word “plus” in order to comply
with the Act’s standards. Coca-Cola was originally given 15 days to
respond and come up with a plan to revamp the soda’s look, but representatives
from the company say they will submit their reply no earlier than
January and that at this time there have been no plans made to change
their labeling on Diet Coke Plus. Issued in a statement, the company
says of the FDCA’s accusation, “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.”
The letter, signed by director of the office of compliance, Roberta
Wagner, at the Center of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says Coca-Cola
should comply with the standards and, “take prompt action to correct
these violations.” If Coca-Cola refuses to cooperate with the FDA’s
ruling and continues to ignore its rules, a violation of the Federal
Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act could rack up large fines and even prompt
a seizure of products, however most likely no such drastic measures
will have to be taken. An FDA Warning Letter is not legally binding,
but if they continue to be ignored, they have grounds to take the
company to court.
With herbal supplements, flavored waters, and supercharged energy
drinks promoted as healthier alternatives, promising a great taste
with added benefits of energy, daily vitamins and minerals, and the
ability to still look cool and help your body, why wouldn’t carbonated
beverage giants want to hop aboard? Everywhere you look from cereal
and yogurt to toaster pastries and canned ravioli companies are adding
“more vitamins and nutrients” to ensure a well-rounded meal, even
if what you’re eating isn’t entirely healthy. With billions of gallons
of soda consumed every year, it’s only natural for Coca-Cola to want
a little piece of the hype, only next time they should be sure to
double-check the fine print.
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