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Dr Pepper cuts 7UP antioxidant content to settle US class action

By Ben Bouckley+

22-Jul-2013
Last updated the 23-Jul-2013 at 12:19 GMT

Picture Credit: Robert Montalvo/Flickr
Picture Credit: Robert Montalvo/Flickr

Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) is settling a US court case over the use and marketing of antioxidants in 7UP and has cut them from drinks, while paying plaintiff lawyers $237500 in fees.

The settlement agreement relates to a suit launched by the US Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in November 2012, which filed an action on behalf of California consumer David Green, which later became a class action in February 2013.

According to the agreement, DPS disputes and denies all claims made against them in the complaint, but has nonetheless agreed to cut the antioxidant in question from products (Vitamin E).

It has undertaken to remove all references to antioxidants on product labels, and agreed to desist from adding any vitamin or mineral with a dietary reference intake (DRI) to 7UP products for the next four years.

Dr Pepper disagrees with CSPI on ‘merit and substance’ of case

Chris Barnes, DPS corporate communications director, told BeverageDaily.com today “CSPI filed its suit against the company in late 2012 after DPS had already begun remaking Cherry 7UP.”

He added that DPS removed the antioxidants to make the formula and label consistent with the rest of the 7UP line.

“The reformulated Cherry 7UP hit the market in early 2013 and will continue to be sold in regular and diet versions,” he said. “As a result, claims brought by CSPI have been withdrawn. While we disagree with CSPI on the merit and substance of their claim, we both agreed this resolved the matter.”

NYC class action attorneys net $237500

California resident Green will receive a $5000 pay-out from DPS. His class action attorneys – NYC firm Reese Richman, which declined to comment to BeverageDaily.com today – did considerably better out of the soda giant, netting $237000 in fees.

Green complained that pictures of fruits – cherries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries and pomegranates on 7UP labels gave the false impression that antioxidants might have come from fruit.

There is no fruit juice in any variety of 7UP while Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy states that the agency “does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as candies and carbonated beverages”.

CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner said that soda was not a health food and should not be marketed as a healthy source of antioxidants and other nutrients.

“It’s to the credit of DPS that it carefully considered these concerns and worked collaboratively to resolve the dispute without further litigation. The end result is a big plus for consumers,” he added.

‘Unfortunate that FDA doesn’t enforce law’ – CSPI’s Jacobson

But CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said he thought it was “unfortunate that the FDA, with its authority and resources, doesn’t enforce the law against all the companies that illegally add nutrients to their products”.

When CSPI originally launched its suit last November – alleging breaches of several Californian laws – the 7UP website claimed ‘There’s never been a more delicious way to cherry pick your antioxidant’

Despite pictures of fruit on various labels, the CSPI noted that 7UP Cherry Antioxidant, for instance, contained (aside from Vitamin E) water, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), citric acid, potassium benzoate and Red 40.

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