Why is Coca Cola Being Sued This Time?

phosphoric acid in Coca Cola's Ingredient List

The last few years have been good for lawyers looking to make some money from class action lawsuits against the food industry. Hey, it’s the American way!

The FDA’s lack of definition for the word natural is an opportunity that seems to be spewing gold. In the last few years, there have been multiple lawsuits by consumers (and the lawyers who take a hefty cut of the settlement) against companies whose “all natural” products contain genetically modified ingredients, lab manufactured additives, and the like. A few examples are Truvia (a brand of stevia powder), Goldfish Crackers, and Naked Juice.

So it’s no surprise someone would figure out a way to go after Coca Cola. As Food Navigator reports, the company is being targeted for the presence of phosphoric acid in its flagship Coke product.

Phosphoric acid is the chemical that serves a dual purpose in colas:

  1. adds the tart flavor to counter 8 teaspoons of sugar.
  2. preservative that prevents bacterial formation

Although it is naturally present in many foods, it is much cheaper to synthesize it in a lab than to harvest it from nature.

The plaintiffs in the current lawsuit posit that Coca Cola asserts in some of its marketing materials that Coke is made with natural ingredients, but phosphoric acid does not fall under that category and therefore Coca Cola is misleading.

Phosphoric acid (phosphates) has been linked to lower bone density in some epidemiological studies. However, only a small fraction of the phosphate in the American diet comes from additives in soft drinks. Most comes from meat and dairy products.

We are no fans of Coca Cola, for many reasons. But to us, this seems like a frivolous lawsuit. It’s sloppy too. The plaintiffs could have thrown in high fructose corn syrup into the mix as well.

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  • Bastiat

    Really? We’re going to take shots at people who are taking these chemical-slurpee products to court for trying to claim to be “all natural” as frivolous gold-diggers with the regulatory equivalent of ambulance chasers as attorneys?

    On THIS blog?

    That Truvia lawsuit is HUGE and hats off to Reese Richman LLP for filing it and winning. Just like Splenda with their con-game marketing campaign of “Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar” which got them sued in several countries. They should have run with “Made in a lab with toxic chemicals so it effects your body like its made in a lab with toxic chemicals”.

    You want to market your science fair experiment as a safe food additive, have at it; but don’t LIE to the American Consumer. Truvia is not some natural extraction from the magical stevia plant. Its a pharmaceutical-grade synthesized product that they get by taking purified GMO corn starch, fermenting it in a lab to make glucose and processing that into a hyper-pure form of the sugar alcohol erythritol. ..oh and then slap a picturesque graphic of a wholesome green leaf on the box.

    We should be supporting these efforts to police our ingredient labels since the FDA and USDA are so obviously asleep at the switch.

    • Jessy S.

      To be honest, this is a frivolous lawsuit at best and it is time to imprison lawyers for filing lawsuits that result from lost time and money. Plus we should throw out all tobacco settlements as well. I don’t like it, but we don’t need a nanny state, but we do need to be educated on food issues.

  • OSS

    The Ph of Coca Cola is 2.8. Coca cola contains phosphoric acid which is an accepted food-grade acid that is added to Coca-cola to give it some of the taste. Phosphoric acid is the active ingredient in Coke.

  • Stefan

    I have made a short film showing just how phosphoric acid erodes teeth enamel:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaDiWJIGe2U