What’s Up with 7 Up? (Now it’s an Antioxidant Drink???)

7 UP Antioxidant BS

UPDATE: 7 Up announced on Thursday Nov 9 that it will discontinue the product. (h/t to Nancy)

Did you know you that soft drinks are now a source of antioxidants? At least that’s what 7Up would have you believe if you pick up one of their Mixed Berry drinks. The company is being sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI):

the antioxidant claim is both misleading, since it gives the impression that the antioxidants come from the pictured healthful fruits, and illegal, since Food and Drug Administration regulations prohibit fortifying nutritionally worthless snack foods and beverages with nutrients. Read more from CSPI…

On 7Up’s website it goes even further: “There’s never been a more delicious way to cherry pick your antioxidant!”

What you need to know:

Indeed, these are NOT berry antioxidants as one would potentially seem to think by quickly glancing at the product package. In fact, there are no berries at all here. Here is the product ingredient list:

filtered carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, potassium citrate, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, calcium disodium EDTA, d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, red 40, blue 1.

The berry-ness comes from “natural flavors” and artificial colors. The antioxidant added is d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, also known as vitamin E.

As an added bonus, the product contains EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid), a preservative used to retain color. It may irritate the skin or cause skin rash and even asthma. It is on FDA’s list of food additives to be studied for toxicity.

All this on top of 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Lovely.

What to do at the supermarket:

If you can skip the beverage aisle and stick to (filtered) tap water – that’s the best option. If you need some flavor or some fizzle, you can buy plain carbonated water and add a few drops of lemon juice or the zest of other fruits / veggies.


  • Maria

    Oy vey.

  • Nancy- The Frugal Dietitian
    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Thanks Nancy – updated the post.

  • James Cooper

    Worse yet, there is no evidence that antioxidants are helpful and a great deal of evidence that they may in fact be harmful. See http://www.examiner.com/article/are-antioxidants-any-good

  • EVIL food scientist

    Never cease to be suprised by my industry. A company as large as the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group must have SOMEONE on board for label review. The FDA’s rules are reasonably clear as to what you can and cannot claim on a label and on a particular food. My company is tiny in comparison and one of the first things we look at when a private label person wants to make label claims is “does this meet the letter of the law?” If you want to say “low fat”, that has specific criteria. If you want to say “high in (insert nutrient here)” that has specific criteria. If you want to make health claims or structure/function claims, those TOO have very precise language you can use and very precise times you can use them.
    This is just dumb.