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PLANO, Texas -- Dr Pepper Snapple Group is pulling its 7UP Antioxidant line up from the store shelves and cooler, but plans to introduce a reformulated version in February.
The news comes as the beverage company faces a lawsuit filed by The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The group filed the legal challenge -- which targets DPSG's regular and diet Cherry Antioxidant, Mixed Berry Antioxidant, and Pomegranate Antioxidant varieties -- in federal court in California late last week.
According to the lawsuit, the antioxidant claim is both misleading, since it gives the impression that the antioxidants come from the pictured healthful fruits, and illegal, since Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations prohibit fortifying nutritionally worthless snack foods and beverages with nutrients.
The suit was filed on behalf of a Sherman Oaks, Calif., man who purchased the drinks but would not have had he known the product didn't contain juices from the advertised fruits, and that the drinks have only a small amount of one isolated antioxidant, vitamin E. The nonprofit CSPI is acting as co-counsel in the lawsuit, with the consumer protection class action law firm Reese Richman LLP.
"Non-diet varieties of 7UP, like other sugary drinks, promote obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and other serious health problems, and no amount of antioxidants could begin to reduce those risks," said CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson. "Adding an antioxidant to a soda is like adding menthol to a cigarette -- neither does anything to make an unhealthy product healthy."
However, in a subsequent statement, DPSG responded that plans to reformulate 7UP Cherry have been on the table for more than a year.
"7UP Cherry is a cherry-flavored soda that does not contain juice ... and it says so right on the label. 7UP Cherry is properly labeled under all FDA regulations so that consumers can make an informed choice," the company said. "When CSPI first contacted us in June, we told them that in 2011 we decided to re-label and reformulate 7UP Cherry. The new 7UP Cherry will not contain antioxidants to be consistent with the formulation and appearance of other 7UP products.
"We also told CSPI that the new 7UP Cherry will be on store shelves in February 2013. However, they refused to hear the truth and instead ran to the overburdened courthouses with their latest publicity-seeking lawsuit," the company added.