To hear Coca-Cola tell it, the tea and fruit drinks it sells under its Fuze brand will help you avoid cancer, heart disease, colds, flu, and infections of the lungs and kidneys.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest says those claims are unfounded and illegal and today urged the Food and Drug Administration to take enforcement action against the company.
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. "Fuze quacks like a duck, and the Food and Drug Administration should be shooting these wacky claims out of the sky."
Some Fuze drinks are sweetened with crystalline fructose, which researchers believe is a significant contributor to obesity. (Incredibly, labels for Fuze Oolong Tea boast no high fructose corn syrup," yet it has crystalline fructose, which is likely worse. That same label claims it has as much antioxidant capacity as 3 servings of vegetables.") Some Fuze drinks actually have up to 25 grams of sugars per 8-ounces, making those Fuzes about as caloric as typical sodas. Some have the artificial sweeteners sucralose and/or acesulfame potassium. Some have skim milk; some have 1 percent to 5 percent fruit juice or purees; all have some vitamins or minerals in various amounts; some have herbs such as ginseng or guarana.
Schardt and CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner urged the FDA to take Fuze off the market until the company complies with federal food labeling law.
Coca-Cola purchased Fuze earlier this year as part of its campaign to sell drinks with a more healthful aura. Coca-Cola is no stranger when it comes to unsubstantiated health claims on drinks. CSPI is suing Coca-Cola over claims that its new green-tea flavored soda Enviga burns calories," speeds metabolism," and promotes weight loss.
CSPI publishes Nutrition Action Healthletter, which in its November issue examines immunity-related claims on Fuze and other similarly situated products.