International

VitaminWater's Health Claims Spark Lawsuits In Canada

The labels on bottles of Vitamin Water, sold under names like "endurance peach mango" and "focus kiwi strawberry," have sparked two lawsuits in Canada. i i

hide captionThe labels on bottles of Vitamin Water, sold under names like "endurance peach mango" and "focus kiwi strawberry," have sparked two lawsuits in Canada.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
The labels on bottles of Vitamin Water, sold under names like "endurance peach mango" and "focus kiwi strawberry," have sparked two lawsuits in Canada.

The labels on bottles of Vitamin Water, sold under names like "endurance peach mango" and "focus kiwi strawberry," have sparked two lawsuits in Canada.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Sports drinks made by Vitamin Water are the target of potential class-action lawsuits in Canada, over claims that the vitamin-fortified drinks make false claims of being healthy. The CBC reports that the two lawsuits, which name VitaminWater's corporate parent, Coca-Cola, are in the early stages.

In one case, a Calgary man claims that he wouldn't have bought the drink if he'd known that it contains more than 30 grams of sugar. And court papers in Alberta show that the other complaint centers around VitaminWater's faux-scientific-geeky labeling, calling itself a "nutrient enhanced water beverage," according to the CBC.

And in something of a twist, both law firms that are filing the suits didn't want to talk to the CBC. But Coca-Cola did, if only to say that it will take "all necessary steps to vigorously defend" the company from any litigation — a phrase that's basically the corporate version of "bring it on."

The statement from Coke also noted that each bottle of VitaminWater lists the drink's ingredients and calories.

Here in the U.S., the Center for Science in the Public Interest is participating in a class-action lawsuit of its own against Coca-Cola over the VitaminWater brand.

A report by the CSPI cites the FDA's "jelly bean" rule, which "prohibits companies from making health claims on junk foods that only meet various nutrient thresholds via fortification. The judge also found that vitaminwater's claim on the 'focus' flavor of vitaminwater that it 'may reduce the risk of age-related eye disease' runs afoul of FDA regulations."

The CSPI case also faults the drinks for touting their juice content. Even with names like "endurance peach mango" and "focus kiwi strawberry," the CSPI says, "VitaminWater contains between zero and one percent juice."

If you thirst for the truth about water, a 2008 NPR story might interest you. It's called Five Myths About Drinking Water.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: