FDA warns over Diet Coke Plus nutrition claims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co’s claims that its Diet Coke Plus include a variety of vitamins and minerals does not meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s standards, the agency said in a warning to the company.

“The FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages,” the agency said in a December 10 letter to the beverage giant released on Tuesday.

Additionally, the product’s label does not include the additional amounts of nutrients included in the “plus” product as the agency requires, the letter said.

Representatives for Coca-Cola defended the product’s claims.

“This does not involve any health or safety issues, and we believe the label on Diet Coke Plus complies with FDA’s policies and regulations,” company spokesman Scott Williamson told Reuters.

Coca-Cola has marketed Diet Coke Plus as “a good source of vitamins B3, B6, and B12, and the minerals zinc and magnesium.” It was launched in the United States in April 2007.

It is part of its Diet Coke line of products, the calorie-free alternative to regular Coca-Cola beverages.

The company has 15 days to outline plans to correct the violation, and Coca-Cola’s Williamson said it would reply to the FDA letter in early January.

FDA officials issue dozens of similar warning letters each year, and most are resolved without further issues. But the agency can take stronger action if necessary, including levying fines and seizing products.

The FDA released the warning letter on its websitehere (Reporting by Susan Heavey; additional reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman in New York; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)