I’m on a panel for the NYAS’s conference on Conflicts of Interest in Healthcare: Opportunities for Self-Reflection and Action, June 24-25. Location: 7 World Trade Center. 250 Greenwich St, 40th Floor. Information and registration are here. My panel is on the 25th at 10:45 a.m. , Session VI: Hot topic discussion: getting to the truth in nutrition science. Other panelists are Mona Calvo fro Penn State, Mehmood Khan from Life Biosciences, and Linda Van Horn from Northwestern. Moderator is Julia Belluz from Vox.
Coca-Cola wants the FDA to let it add vitamins to drinks
Thanks to Elaine Watson at FoodNavigator-USA for writing about Coca-Cola’s efforts to get the FDA to let it put vitamins in its drinks. OK, its “healthier” drinks.
Historically, the FDA discouraged (putting it mildly) makers of candy and other junk foods from adding vitamins so they could be marketed as “healthy.” This was known as the “jelly bean rule.” Vitamins could not be added to jelly beans—or Coca-Cola.
The Food and Drug Administration does not encourage indiscriminate addition of nutrients to foods, nor does it consider it appropriate to fortify fresh produce; meat, poultry, or fish products; sugars; or snack foods such as candies and carbonated beverages.
But what about the exceptions?
- Gummy Bears: vitamins are be added to gummy bears, but these are typically sold as dietary supplements, not foods. They can do this because the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 authorized much looser rules for supplements. Even though gummy bears are candy, the FDA isn’t going to fight this one.
- Glaceau Vitamin Water: Coca-Cola now owns this company. Some Vitamin Waters have as much sugar as a Coke. They have Nutrition Facts labels and are marketed as foods, and look to me to be in violation of the jelly bean rule,. The FDA hasn’t done anything about them, even though they are vitamin-enriched sugar water. If you have any idea why not, please tell me.
For decades, Coca-Cola has tried to get the FDA to ease up on the jelly bean rule. Now it is trying again.
Its argument? The rule, by not allowing the addition of vitamins to sugary teas and coffees, stifles innovation.
Its assurance? It won’t add vitamins to Coke, but will add them to its other, presumably “healthier” (meaning, I suppose, less sugary) beverages.
As I wrote earlier, candy makers are trying this trick too.
I wonder how long the FDA can hold out on this one. I wish it luck.