Consumer Group Sues 7UP Makers for Antioxidant Claims

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A consumer advocacy group is suing Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, the makers of 7UP, for marketing "nutritionally worthless" sodas as healthy, fruit-filled antioxidant drinks.

In its recent ads, and on its website, the manufacturer says “There’s never been a more delicious way to cherry pick your antioxidant!” The word “antioxidant” is emblazoned across the front of the bottle along with pictures of fruit.

But the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the drinks contain no fruit at all and only a “small amount” of added Vitamin E, which the group claims has no proven antioxidant benefits.

After touting added antioxidants in its regular and diet Cherry Antioxidant, Mixed Berry Antioxidant and Pomegranate Antioxidant 7UP beverages, the company is facing a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Sherman Oaks, Calif., man who says he was duped. He says he purchased the drinks not knowing they didn't really contain juices from the advertised fruits.

“Non-diet varieties of 7UP, like other sugary drinks, promote obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and other serious health problems, and no amount of antioxidants could begin to reduce those risks,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.  “Adding an antioxidant to a soda is like adding menthol to a cigarette -- neither does anything to make an unhealthy product healthy.”

The FDA seems to agree. In its current policy, the agency states it, "does not consider it appropriate to fortify … snack foods such as candies and carbonated beverages."  The FDA also nabbed Coca-Cola for similar violations of the policy. Coke received a warning letter from the FDA for the offense.

The antioxidant claims on 7UP's labeling are in violation of several California laws including the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, according to the lawsuit.

The CSPI is acting as co-counsel in the lawsuit with consumer protection class action law firm Reese Richman LLP.

"Every can or bottle of 7UP consumed brings one closer to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health problems," said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. "So I look forward to having 7UP go under oath and testify before a judge or a jury that this disease-promoting sugar water is actually a source of healthy antioxidants."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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