The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has slammed Coke for tagging on "plus" to its Diet Coke. It has also warned the soft-drink giant that failure to comply with the regulations in place might result in the seizure of the product.
There are rules about how many nutrients justify the use of "plus" in food labels (a certain amount more than a reference food). But the labeling doesn't provide a comparison beverage to justify the "plus" claim, according to the FDA.
Roberta F. Wagner, Director, Office of Compliance, said in a recent communiqué, "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the label for your Diet Coke Plus 20 FL OZ (1 .25 PT) 591m1 . Based on our review, we have concluded that this
product is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) . Your Diet Coke Plus product is misbranded within the meaningof section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act [21 USC 343(r)(IxA)] because the product makes a nutrient content claim but does not meet the criteria to make the claim."
The term may be used on the label or in labeling of foods to describe the level of nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) in the food, provided that the food contains at least 10 percent more of the Reference Daily Intake or Daily Reference Value for the nutrient per reference amount customarily consumed than an appropriate reference food.
Also where the claim is based on nutrients that are added to the food, the fortification should be in accordance with the policy on fortification of foods.
The letter went on to insist, "...the FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages . Additionally, the label of your product does not state the identity of a reference food and the percentage (or fraction) of the amount of the nutrient in the reference food by which the nutrient in the labeled food differs, as is required for
relative claims such as "plus."
Therefore, the "plus" claim on the label of this product does not meet the requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. "
The above violations are not meant to be an all-inclusive list of deficiencies in your products or their labeling. It is your responsibility to ensure that all of your products are in compliance with the laws and regulations enforcedby FDA. You should take prompt action to correct the violations. Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in regulatory actions without further notice, such as seizure and/or injunction," the letter said.
Coke said it will respond to the agency in early January, but has no immediate plans to change the label, according to the Associated Press. "This does not involve any health or safety issues, and we believe the label on Diet Coke Plus complies with FDA's policies and regulations," spokesman Scott Williamson said.