Company Agrees to Stop Fortifying Soda with Vitamins

Dr Pepper Snapple Group has agreed to stop fortifying certain of its 7UP soft drinks with vitamins and will no longer claim the product has antioxidants. The agreement ends litigation initiated by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and the consumer protection law firm Reese Richman LLP, which in November 2012, filed a federal class action lawsuit against the company on behalf of a California consumer.

"Soda is not a health food, and should not be marketed as a healthy source of antioxidants or other nutrients," said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. "It's to the credit of Dr Pepper Snapple Group that it carefully considered these concerns, and worked collaboratively to resolve the dispute without further litigation. The end result is a big plus for consumers."

7UP's regular and diet Cherry Antioxidant, Mixed Berry Antioxidant, and Pomegranate Antioxidant varieties had small amounts of vitamin E added at the time of the lawsuit. According to the complaint, the pictures of cherries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, and pomegranates on various 7Up labels gave the impression that the antioxidants might have come from fruit, but there is no fruit juice of any kind in any variety of 7UP. FDA policy prohibits the fortification of carbonated soft drinks and junk foods with vitamins.

Consumption of non-diet soda and other sugar drinks promotes weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, and other problems, according to CSPI and other health authorities. CSPI recommends that people drink water, unsweetened iced tea, seltzer water, or seltzer mixed with fruit juice, but if they do want soda, to choose a diet soda over full-calorie soda.

CSPI said that while it is pleased that Dr Pepper-Snapple agreed to stop fortifying its products, litigation over individual products is not the best way to get companies to obey the law.

"It's unfortunate that the FDA, with its authority and resources, doesn't enforce the law against all the companies that illegally add nutrients to their products," Michael F. Jacobson said.

Last week a federal magistrate judge ruled that a separate lawsuit against Coca-Cola, for what CSPI says is deceptive marketing of its vitaminwater line of soft drinks, may proceed as a class action. CSPI's litigation unit is acting as co-counsel in that suit as well.