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Coca-Cola has received a warning letter from the FDA informing the company that its beverage, Diet Coke Plus, does not meet FDA criteria to warrant the designation of “plus,” and is thus in violation of section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The term “plus,” as well as the information on the label, which reads “Diet Coke with Vitamins and Minerals,” indicates to consumers that the beverage is fortified with vitamins and minerals. The FDA requires that foods labeled “plus” must have “at least 10% more nutrients than comparable products.” The agency stated that, in accordance with federal regulations, it is inappropriate for Coca-Cola “to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages.” Furthermore, the Diet Coke Plus label does not contain information regarding the beverage’s nutritional content that is required of a product that uses the term “plus” on its label.
The director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest stated that companies that fortify food products with additional nutrients may charge more for the items, even though consumers do not necessarily need the supplemental nutrients.
Coca-Cola maintains that the Diet Coke Plus label complies with FDA requirements, and will formally respond to the FDA’s letter in early January. It is unclear whether Coca-Cola will ultimately be required to remove Diet Coke Plus from commercial distribution, change the label, or follow any other particular course of action.
Interestingly, the FDA issued the warning letter regarding Diet Coke Plus just days before it approved Coca-Cola’s new sweetener, Truvia, which the company has announced will be used to sweeten some Odwalla juices as well as Sprite. For Coca-Cola’s sake (as well as the sake of the public), here’s hoping all of these drinks remain safe for consumption.
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