Is Fuze Violating Labeling Law By Making Bogus Health Claims?

The always entertaining Center for Science in the Public Interest is irritated with Coca-Cola’s Fuze drinks because they make ridiculous health claims on their labels.

Some examples, emphasis ours:

Labels for Fuze Vitalize blackberry grape claim that its Vitamin A “helps reinforce resistance to colds, influenza & infections of the kidneys, bladder and lungs.”

Fuze Oolong Tea claims that “regular consumption of Polyphenols are associated with reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.”

The vitamin B3 in the four flavors of Fuze Refresh is “known to improve circulation and reduce the cholesterol level in the blood,” according to the Fuze web site. None of those claims have been approved by the FDA.

“Fuze drinks won’t do anything for your kidneys, your lungs, or your heart; nor will they lower your cholesterol or prevent you from catching a cold,” says CSPI senior nutritionist David Schardt.

What? But, but, Jessica Simpson drinks it!

It must prevent cancer if Jessica Simpson thinks it does. Ahem.

In addition to urging the FDA to crack down on Fuze, CSPI is also suing Coca-cola over another product— the truly bogus “Enviga” calorie burning drink.

Coca-Cola’s Fuze Beverage Makes False Claims of Reducing Risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, Flu, Kidney Infection, More [CSPI]
(Photo:DrinkFuze)

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  1. UpsetPanda says:

    Though there’s a difference between saying “The Vitamin A in OUR DRINK helps to resist flu” and “Vitamin A helps to resist flu” because then it’s just providing nutrition tidbits without making any claims that the Vitamin C specific to the drink provide any of the listed qualities.

    Same with the green tea. It’s saying that regular consumption of Polyphenols may help to reduce the risk of cancer or whatnot, but it’s not saying “Drink this and be cancer-proof” though the wording is very tricky, and makes you think so.

  2. Bay State Darren says:

    “It must prevent cancer if JESSICA SIMPSON THINKS it does.”

    Fuze ain’t the only one making false claims here, Meg.

  3. Graedus says:

    Missj nailed it. Look at wine, it’s got more polyphenols in it than that crap, and nutritionists/biochemists have been studying it for ages, trying to determine a direct correlation between wine drinking and heart disease, but no one is putting these labels on wine bottles because most claims are only partly true. Wine consumption can’t be advised since the toxic effects of ethanol compared to it’s beneficial effects aren’t universally established.

    You’re probably more likely to suffer from obesity and rotten teeth from drinking too much of that crap, despite whatever small concentrations of beneficial compounds are in there.

  4. Graedus says:

    damn, run-on sentence.

  5. UpsetPanda says:

    I think the people who look at drinks such as Fuze and Sobe and thinks “they’re healthy for me, let’s drink a ton” kind of set themselves up. Regardless of how many vitamins they pump into those drinks, they are still abiding by the “fast and healthy” non-rule. There is simply no rule that says that people can be healthy or lose weight while spending zero to little time working on it. You can’t drink a bottle of Fuze and expect to get enough Vitamin A to make any kind of dent in your daily suggested dose. The best way of staying healthy is STILL eating well, exercising, and drinking good, clean water.

  6. nuton2wheels says:

    It’s just another example of misinformation from Coca Cola’s bullshit artists. I was walking past a pallet of 12ct Coke cartons on my way out of a store when something caught my eye: “Who knew soft drinks could be hydrating?” I stopped in my tracks and read further: “It’s true. All beverages hydrate, including soft drinks. So if you are looking for hydration, but want the delicious and refreshing taste you get from Coca-Cola, don’t compromise – go for it! You’ll be hydrating your body with each and every sip.” That’s ridiculous. Coke might hydrate me temporarily, I’ll regret it and be dehydrated in the end. The phosphoric acid gnaws away at my teeth, caffeine acts as a diuretic, and the sugar requires water to be digested.

    I remember when Jennifer Asman of Coca Cola gave a speech during one of my management classes. At the end, a lot of the asskissers wanted to talk to her for job search brownie points. One of my acquaintances asked why I wasn’t going, and I replied “I’m not going to deceive kids into consuming polluted sugar water.” Some things never change.

  7. GrantGannon says:

    I’m an avid drinker of Fuze Slenderize. I don’t do it for what it has but for what it doesn’t have.

    It’s got a good taste and gives me just enough sweetness but it contains almost NO sugar. I’m a health nut and have been for the last 8 months. I started eating right and exercising and ya know what..I lost weight. A lot of it. 40 pounds to be exact.

    Does Fuze burn fat and make me super healthy? Probably not. Does it take the place of something that WOULD make me fat..like a Coke or a huge glass of sweet tea? Yep.

  8. HeyThereKiller says:

    thats really interesting… a crackhead in a pizza place once told me that fuze gave her cancer… im not sure who to believe anymore

  9. Elle Rayne says:

    Frankly, I don’t see why this is a problem. Anybody who drinks Fuze and Fuze alone to get healthy deserves what they get. And besides, we’ve got calcium-fortified orange with similar health claims, even though you need to drink milk and eat kale and all that to get your needed calcium. How is this different? It’s certainly not harmful to have a little vitamins slipped in your drink, and like a multivitamin, it can supplement the vitamin-rich real food you should be eating.

  10. suburbancowboy says:

    If they are going to tell you what the products may do, they should include the following information about a couple of the artificial sweeteners included in all of their drinks:

    Acesulfame Potassium:“Acesulfame K apparently produced lung tumors, breast tumors, rare types of tumors of other organs (such as the thymus gland), several forms of leukemia and chronic respiratory disease in several rodent studies, even when less than maximum doses were given.”

    Sucralose: (also known as Splenda) Research in animals has shown that sucralose can cause many problems in rats, mice, and rabbits, such as:

    * Shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage)
    * Enlarged liver and kidneys.
    * Atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus
    * Increased cecal weight
    * Reduced growth rate
    * Decreased red blood cell count
    * Hyperplasia of the pelvis
    * Extension of the pregnancy period
    * Aborted pregnancy
    * Decreased fetal body weights and placental weights
    * Diarrhea

  11. majortom1981 says:

    People actually drink that . Ive had it twice and it was the worst tasting thing that I have ever drank in my life.The second time I tired it hoping it got better and it was worse then the last time.

  12. Fuck Lion says:

    @nuton2wheels: I remember reading somewhere that the diuretic effect of a soft drink is not enough to offset the volume of water in the drink, so you still have a net gain of water. It’s just not the full amount.

  13. Steve Gardner says:

    MISSJ correctly says that “there’s a difference between saying “The Vitamin A in OUR DRINK helps to resist flu” and “Vitamin A helps to resist flu”, but it’s a difference without a distinction.

    It’s true that Coke’s advertising weasels have chosen their words carefully, but the only reason the claims are on the can is so that people will buy the stuff because they have been told by Coke that drinking this stuff will cure diseases and, perhaps, allow you to leap tall buildings in a single bound (though that might be a stretch).

    In other words, the important thing to bear in mind is that Coke is deliberately making claims that are flatly illegal. And it knows that they are illegal, since the FDA sent the company that used to own Fuze a letter telling them so, just months before Coke bought the product:
    [www.fda.gov]

    Coke now says it changed the label in January and February, but the Fuze website still makes all kinds of outlandish claims.

  14. Dervish says:

    @Freaky Styley: From what I’ve read, you are right. From [www.mckinley.uiuc.edu] : “There is no evidence that caffeine in beverage form is dehydrating. Its diuretic effects are usually compensated for by the beverage’s fluid content.”

  15. jeff303 says:

    @suburbancowboy: Good point. Also they can legally hide quite a lot behind “natural flavor”. See: [www.truthinlabeling.org]

  16. GrantGannon says:

    Hmm…so everyone down 100 ounces of Coca-Cola during the day next time you’re scheduled to do a long run and let me know how it works out for you.

  17. kris in seattle says:

    I tried one of those Enviga drinks sort of on a dare… it tasted like shit. I hate even sipping a beer and I’d rather chug a 12 pack of cheap shitty ass beer than drink ONE of those goddamn “Enviga”.

    It makes me THAT angry.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Coca-Cola could avoid this hassle if they’d just BUY the entire FDA. Then they could say “Fuse – it’s got the electrolytes that plants crave!”

  19. Dervish says:

    @GrantGannon: Try chugging 100 oz of ANYTHING before a long run and let me know how it works out for you.

  20. MikeWas says:

    @12:16 AM: “Anybody who drinks Fuze and Fuze alone to get healthy deserves what they get.”

    Let me suggest that anyone who drinks Fuze and Fuze alone to get healthy probably can’t be helped by modern medicine anyway.

  21. UpsetPanda says:

    What about Vitamin Water or whatever else tastes like watered down juice? Healthy? Non? IMO, those drinks (even though to me it tastes okay) were created for people who don’t drink water to make excuses and say they can continue their habit of not drinking water. Water is still the healthiest thing for you.

  22. zyodei says:

    OK, clearly Fuze is crap. No questions there, you will never see that swill touching my lips.

    But my issue is not with Fuze, but rather with the FDA acting like people can’t be trusted to make their own decisions, to evaluate information on their own.

    Because people are taught that they don’t have to evaluate anything on their own, that the FDA will do it for them, they take whatever they read as gospel truth.

    In short: The FDA helps legitimatize hyped of advertising claims.

    And don’t even get me started about the time a few years ago when the FDA went after cherry growers for claiming on packaging that cherries help reduce pain (a claim backed by a peer reviewed study), while at the same time allowing Vioxx to go on the market as a pain relief and kill 50,000. How many people did cherries kill?

    The FDA should be abolished, plain and simple. People should go back to having to figure out the veracity of claims on their own. The Internet can be very useful for things like that.

  23. zyodei says:

    Just to clarify: I know that the FDA hasn’t said anything. But the climate is such that, when someone makes a ridiculous claim, the call is for the FDA to regulate it, instead of a call to consumers to reject this crap. The inherent assumption is that people are too stupid to figure out that Fuze isn’t the way to radiant health…

    Of course, some people are, but I would argue that it’s because people have been trained to believe they don’t have to be savvy, that they can simply believe everything health claim they read at face value.