Coca-Cola is getting ready to roll out new labels that will prominently display the calorie count for each bottle or can. “Now more than ever, people expect facts about the products they consume to be both readily available and visible,” said CEO Muhtar Kent. What facts won’t be on those labels? Any information about where the calories come from, like, say, high fructose corn syrup, is relegated to its traditional spot in the Nutrition Facts box. But with most non-diet sodas, the math is pretty easy: If the label says 100 calories, that’s pretty much 100 calories of sugar or corn syrup.
According to Coke’s Chief Scientific & Regulatory Officer, Dr. Rhona Applebaum, the company has “been a leader in driving and promoting efforts to advance fact-based nutrition labeling. … Our new product labels aim to help people better balance their energy intake, as variety, moderation and regular physical activity are the keys to effective weight management.”
Skeptics, however, don’t see any real value in labeling products that have minimal nutritional value to begin with. “It’s a useful step,” Michael Jacobson of Center for Science in the Public Interest told USA Today. “But listing calories on the front of a Coke is like putting lipstick on a pig. Coca-Cola is basically … liquid candy.”
Others suggest that Coke may be attempting to get out in front of potential taxation of sweetened beverages — something that Kent earlier likened to the policies of the former Soviet Union. Jacobson, though, sees one positive outcome: with calorie counts so easy to see, more consumers may decide to choose one of Coke’s zero-calorie products, instead of the sweetened ones.