Tag Archives soda/soft drink

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published an October 2016 report claiming that “taxing sugary drinks can lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay,” according to a concurrent press release. Titled Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), the report collates information gathered during a May 2015 technical meeting of fiscal-policy experts who evidently concluded that “there is reasonable and increasing evidence that appropriately designed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages would result in proportional reductions in consumption, especially if aimed at raising the retail price by 20% or more.” The report summarizes the effect of fiscal policies—including food and beverage taxes, nutrient-focused taxes and subsidies—on health outcomes in Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Hungary, Mauritius, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand and the United States. “Some of the challenges faced in implementation include a lack of appropriate capacity for tax administration, tax set at low levels that…

A consumer has filed a purported class action against PepsiCo and subsidiary Izze Beverage Co. alleging Izze carbonated juice drinks are misleadingly marketed as containing “no preservatives” despite the presence of citric or ascorbic acid. Lindberg v. PepsiCo Inc., No. 16-6569 (S.D.N.Y., filed August 19, 2016). The complaint also challenges Izze’s claim that each bottle “delivers two servings of fruit based on [U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s)] 2010 Dietary Guidelines,” which is misleading because “the USDA did away with this measure of servings in its 2010 Guidelines precisely because it misleads consumers about how much of various food groups they should eat or drink.” The plaintiff asserts the dietary guidelines claim is also misleading because it “falsely suggests that Izze Sodas contain the nutritional value and health benefits that can be obtained by eating fruit. Whole fruit contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Even if Izze Sodas were originally manufactured with…

Two lawsuits challenging the inclusion of “evaporated cane juice” (ECJ) on ingredient lists will continue in light of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) July 2016 nonbinding guidance recommending that “sugar” be listed instead. A California federal court refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Lifeway Foods alleging its kefir product packaging misled consumers into believing it contained no added sugar by including ECJ in the ingredients list. Figy v. Lifeway Foods Inc., No. 13-4828 (N.D. Cal., order entered August 16, 2016). The court found the plaintiff’s claims to be properly pleaded and was not persuaded by Lifeway’s argument that the expiration dates on the labels attached to the complaint suggested that the products were purchased after the plaintiff knew what ECJ is because the labels were merely examples of the product packaging rather than the specific products the plaintiff purchased. Details about Lifeway’s motion to the court arguing the…

Betty Inc., a Connecticut-based advertising agency, has filed a lawsuit alleging PepsiCo Inc. used its idea for a Super Bowl commercial without payment or attribution. Betty Inc. v. PepsiCo Inc., No. 16-4215 (S.D.N.Y., filed June 7, 2016). The complaint asserts that employees of Betty presented the idea for “All Kinds/Living Jukebox,” a tour through different musical genres and styles of dance representing the “Joy of Pepsi®,” in November 2015, then accepted PepsiCo’s request to refine the idea for a payment of $5,000. Betty argues it refined the idea but told PepsiCo that the $5,000 did not transfer any rights of use or ownership of the advertising concept. PepsiCo did not seek to further produce the concept after the refinement, but “[t]he Super Bowl halftime commercial PepsiCo aired during the 2016 Super Bowl copies, is fundamentally based on, and is derivative of, the ‘All Kinds/Living Jukebox’ advertising storyline Betty presented to…

The Philadelphia City Council Committee of the Whole has backed a 1.5 cents per-ounce tax on sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks, a measure that the council anticipates will raise $91 million over the next year. If approved by final vote as expected, the tax will “fund quality pre-K expansion, community schools, reinvestment in parks and recreation centers, and help pad the City’s General Fund,” according to a June 8, 2016, press release. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) initially proposed a 3-cents-per-ounce levy on sugar-sweetened beverages, but the council concluded that such an increase would raise more revenue than needed. Instead, the committee opted to reduce the tax to 1.5 cents per ounce while expanding the scope to include diet soft drinks. The council also advanced a bill “offering tax credits to merchants that opt to sell healthy beverages in their stores.” “A 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax increase on soft drinks will…

A consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging that Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. falsely advertised its food as free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) despite serving meat products from animals fed GMOs and soft drinks that contain GMO corn syrup. Pappas v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 16-0612 (S.D. Cal., filed March 10, 2016). The plaintiff alleges violations of California's consumer-protection law and seeks class certification, damages, an injunction, and attorney's fees. The complaint echoes the arguments in a similar California case dismissed without prejudice in February 2016 finding that the plaintiff's definition of GMO was inconsistent. The plaintiff has filed an amended complaint arguing that consumers "reasonably understand today that such claims would mean that Chipotle's menu is 100% free of GMOs and that Chipotle does not serve food sourced from animals that have been raised on GMOs or genetically engineered food." Gallagher v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 15-3952…

With the launch of its Change4Life campaign, Public Health England (PHE) has issued a free bar code-scanning app that displays the sugar content of foods and beverages. Claiming that children ages 4 to 10 consume 22 kilograms of sugar per year—”the average weight of a 5-year-old”—the campaign also features TV, digital and outdoor advertising as well as educational packs to be distributed by schools. Among other things, PHE highlights tooth decay as “the most common reason” for hospital admissions among children ages 5 to 9. To this end, the “Smart Sugar” app allows users to scan product bar codes at supermarkets to display the sugar content in grams or cubes. According to PHE, which notes that a single serving of soda contains 9 cubes of sugar, the recommended daily maximum sugar intake is (i) “5 sugar cubes for children aged 4 to 6,” (ii) “6 sugar cubes for children aged…

“If any one name evokes unfettered truths about the sociopolitical machinations of ‘Big Food,’ it is that of Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University,” proclaims physician David Katz in a review of Nestle’s new book, Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning). “Dominions of fizz,” Nature, October 1, 2015. Nestle describes, according to Katz, “softball” strategies employed by industry—“… scientific evidence on health effects, the industry’s impact on the environment and the preferential marketing of soft drinks to children, specific ethnic groups and poor people …”—as well as “the correspondence between the tactics of the soft-drinks and tobacco industries.” Those alleged tactics, Nestle asserts, include “’hardball’ strategies such as litigation, lobbying of Congress, and front groups such as New Yorkers Against Unfair Taxes, established by the beverage industry to oppose a soft-drinks levy.”   Issue 580

Analyzing data from more than 2,500 participants enrolled in a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute study, Tufts University researchers have reportedly concluded that “a daily sugar-sweetened beverage [SSB] habit may increase the risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).” Jiantao Ma, et al., “Sugar-sweetened beverage, diet soda and fatty liver disease in the Framingham Heart Study cohorts,” Journal of Hepatology, June 2015. The study relied on self-reported dietary questionnaires to assess consumption of SSBs—including soda and other sweetened carbonated beverages, fruit punches, lemonade and non-carbonated fruit drinks—then used computer tomography (CT) scans “to measure the amount of fat in the liver.” Although the study found no association between diet soda intake and NAFLD, it evidently reported “a higher prevalence of NAFLD among people who reported drinking more than one [SSB] per day compared to people who said they drank no [SSBs].” “Our study adds to a growing body of research…

A California federal court has refused to dismiss a class action consolidated from nine lawsuits against PepsiCo, Inc. alleging that the company concealed its products’ content of 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a chemical listed as known to cause cancer or reproductive harm under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Prop. 65). Sciortino v. Pepsico, No. 14-0478 (N.D. Cal., order entered June 5, 2015). The lawsuits were filed after a January 2014 Consumer Reports test reportedly found that the caramel coloring in PepsiCo sodas contained 4-MEI at levels higher than the Prop. 65 safety threshold of 29 micrograms. Details of a similar lawsuit dismissed in March 2015 requesting medical monitoring appear in Issue 557 of this Update. The court first discussed the notice requirements under Prop. 65, which require 60 days of notice of the alleged violation to government agencies to provide a “non-adversarial opportunity for public agencies to…

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