A case of Coca-Cola's vitaminwater
Vitaminwater, produced by Coca-Cola, is the drink of choice for many people because they view it as a healthy alternative to soda. In reality, vitaminwater is essentially sugar water plus synthetic nutrients, which can become pollutants when released in excessive amounts, too rapidly, or in a way that is not suitable for the environment.
After a non-profit group sued the beverage company, Coca-Cola essentially called consumers stupid for believing their product to be healhty, even after they spent billions to convince consumers that vitaminwater is a healthy choice.
Close-up of a vitaminwater label
Here are the details: in January 2009, a non-profit public interest group called the Center for Science in the Public Interest first sued Coca-Cola for “deceptive and unsubstantiated claims on its VitaminWater line of beverages.” In July 2010 as an attempt to get the case dismissed, Coca-Cola defended itself saying that consumers would not reasonably believe that vitaminwater is a health drink.
The name vitaminwater, however, makes consumers think the drink is only water plus vitamins. On their packaging, they say “vitamins + water = all you need.”
To market this particular drink line, Coca-Cola used celebrity endorsements from popular rapper 50 Cent and pro basketball players Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. These advertisements implied that drinking vitaminwater is a healthy way for consumers to hydrate.
In a press release, one woman said she bought the product because she thought she was doing herself a favor health-wise.
Not zero calories but zero juice
One 20-ounce bottle of vitaminwater contains 33 grams of sugar, plus the following ingredients: vapor distilled/deionized water, crystal-line fructose, natural flavor, citric acid, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), vitamin E acetate, fruit and vegetable juice (color) magnesium lactate (electrolyte), calcium lactate (electrolyte), niacin (B3), monopotassium phosphate (electrolyte), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), cyanocaobalamin (B12), folic acid. The vitamwater names include "endurance peach mango," "focus kiwi strawberry," and "xxx blueberry pomegranate acai," among others. Despite these fruity names, the drinks contain between zero and one percent juice.
The real healthy choice
As mentioned above, Coca-Cola asserts that "no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage." In his 55-page opinion, the judge cited the jellybean rule, which refers to the FDA regulations that restrict food makers from adding nutrients to otherwise unhealthful foods in order to make health claims in their advertising. Americans now get nearly 25 percent of their calories from liquids, so this kind of marketing clearly has some impact on consumers.
Will you continue to choose vitaminwater?
If you want to get enough vitamins in your diet, eat a variety of vegetables and fruits. Also, choose natural, plant-based nutrients over synthetic ones.