Lawsuits say ‘diet’ soda claim is misleading

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Megan Poinski, Food Dive, October 20, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • Class action lawsuits accusing major soda manufacturers Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple of unfair and deceptive business practices and false advertising for labeling their artificially sweetened drinks “diet” were filed this week in federal court in New York. The lawsuits have separate plaintiffs, but they are all represented by the same law firms and make similar arguments.
  • The three lawsuits say a product labeled “diet” makes consumers think it will help them lose weight, but cite scientific studies indicating that artificial sweeteners may actually cause consumers to gain weight. “Some research has shown that sweetness — whether from sugar or noncaloric, artificial sources, increases appetite, which can lead to weight gain. Moreover, ‘[i]nconsistent coupling between sweet taste and caloric content can lead to compensatory overeating and positive energy balance,’ ” the lawsuits all state.
  • Representatives from the soda companies and attorneys who spoke to Food Navigator said they don’t believe the lawsuits will go far. They say the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the term “diet” when it is not false or misleading, and the soft drink companies’ use is completely legal.

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