Antioxidant Claims Get Soda Manufacturer In Hot Water
November 9, 2012

7-Up Cherry With Antioxidants Pulled From The Market

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

It´s no secret that many companies are attempting to take advantage of the natural food market, labeling things as organic or adding nutrients and vitamins to foods otherwise devoid of such elements. One such product, 7-Up with antioxidants, was recently the subject of a lawsuit and will no longer be available as of early 2013.

A California man brought the class-action status lawsuit against the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, claiming that the labels on these sodas were misleading.

Consumer advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is now jumping on board, noting that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits companies from fortifying sodas and candy with nutrients.

These alleged antioxidant-enriched sodas came in 3 flavors: Cherry, Mixed Berry and Pomegranate. While the labels displayed pictures of the fruits, the beverages do not contain any fruit juice. Instead, the makers of 7-Up merely added Vitamin E to the beverages. The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, based in Plano, TX, said the decision to remove the Vitamin E enriched 7-Up was not a result of the lawsuit, but instead a decision to promote consistency across their brands.

"It's an implied claim of healthfulness without any evidence," says Mike Jacobson, the executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, speaking to the Associated Press.

Other foods, such as orange juice or breads, are fortified with minerals. These 7-Up sodas were particularly troubling because the FDA directly prohibits this kind of fortification.

In a previous case against Coca-Cola Co, the FDA objected to their own fortified concoction, Diet Coke with Vitamins and Minerals. This product was removed in 2010, but the Coca-Cola Co said they removed the product due to poor sales.

In an email to Reuters, a Dr. Pepper Snapple Group spokesperson defended the soda, saying it´s 7-Up Cherry is a “cherry-flavored soda that does not contain juice ... and it says so right on the label." The spokesperson then wrote these claims off as "another attempt by the food police at CSPI to mislead consumers about soft drinks."

While they will be removing the 7-Up with antioxidant soda from the shelf, Dr. Pepper Snapple will be releasing a new formula for their 7-Up Cherry which will be available in February, according to their spokesperson.

This lawsuit was filed yesterday in a US District Court in California and will seek financial damages and an end to the misleading advertising. It´s likely the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group wanted to get one step ahead of this class-action suit by removing the product by next year. The Plaintiff who brought the suit against the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, David Green, has said he would not have bought the sodas if he knew the antioxidants did not come from the fruit displayed on the label.

According to Reuters, the news of this lawsuit does not appear to have had much effect on Dr. Pepper Snapple´s stock prices. When the market closed yesterday, the company´s stock was down by only 30 cents, closing at $43.24.