Coca-Cola “Slightly Sweet” Case Dismissed
On July 12, the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action lawsuit against Coca-Cola and their Gold Peak iced tea. The plaintiff had alleged violations of various federal and New York state laws, as well as claims of fraud and unjust enrichment based on the argument that the claim “slightly sweet” led consumers to believe that the product was low in sugar, despite containing 24 grams of sugar per serving (equivalent to 48% of the daily reference value).
Coca-Cola argued that the claim “slightly sweet” was a subjective statement describing the product’s taste. They further argued that the principal display panel (PDP) and nutrition information clearly indicated the calorie and sugar content of the product. In the dismissal, the court found that there were no plausible allegations to support that a reasonable consumer would assume the beverage was “low sugar” and thus “low calories” based on the “slightly sweet” label. In finding that the label was not deceptive, the court agreed with Coca-Cola’s argument that the nutrition information accurately displayed the sugar content and that the “90 Calories” claim on the PDP was accurate.
“Low sugar” and similar type claims have recently been the focus of several lawsuits and related actions. In addition, as we have previously blogged, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently urged the Agency to take enforcement action against such claims like “lightly sweetened” and “slightly sweet,” arguing that they are equivalent to a “low sugar” claim, which is an undefined and therefore impermissible nutrient content claim.