Dr Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE: DPS ) says some varieties of its 7-Up soft drink contain antioxidants. The Center for Science in the Public Interest takes issue with this and sued the soft-drink maker this week.
On Thursday, the two organizations had harsh words for each other.
"Adding an antioxidant to a soda is like adding menthol to a cigarette -- neither does anything to make an unhealthy product healthy," said CSPI in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
"This is another attempt by the food police at CSPI to mislead consumers about soft drinks," said Dr Pepper Snapple in a response.
However, Dr Pepper Snapple announced in the same statement that it would be reformulating and relabeling 7-Up Cherry so that it "will not contain antioxidants to be consistent with the formulation and appearance of other 7UP products."
CSPI had filed a lawsuit in California challenging Dr Pepper's claims, alleging that labels on the pop bearing pictures of cherries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, and pomegranates misled consumers into believing the sodas contained actual fruit juices, from which the antioxidants originated. (They did not, and this was stated on the labels.) Furthermore, said the CSPI, the Food and Drug Administration has a policy against permitting makers of snack foods such as carbonated beverages from adding nutrients to their products and implying health benefits thereby.
"7UP Cherry is properly labeled under all FDA regulations so that consumers can make an informed choice," said Dr Pepper Snapple in its corporate response. It said it told CSPI back in June that it was going to reformulate the soda to remove the antioxidants. The new 7-Up Cherry will be on store shelves by February.
There are also mixed berry antioxidant and pomegranate antioxidant versions of 7-Up, according to the company's website, but a Dr Pepper Snapple spokesperson said they are limited-time holiday season offerings and are not available nationally. They will be out of the market after January.