Do you remember the lawsuit where a woman sued McDonald’s because her coffee was hot?
It has been called the dumbest lawsuit in American history.
On Thursday, two black pastors, William Lamar and Delman Coates, filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Superior Court against Coca-Cola, alleging that the beverage company participated in “false, deceptive, and misleading advertising and promotion of sugar-sweetened beverages” that had a particularly negative effect on the black community, the Washington Post reported.
“It’s become really clear to me that we’re losing more people to the sweets than to the streets,” Coates told the Post. “There’s a great deal of misinformation in our communities, and I think that’s largely a function of these deceptive marketing campaigns.”
Coates said he had seen members of his congregation give bottles filled with soft drinks to their infants.
“This campaign of deception has also been bestowed on the leadership of our major Latino and black organizations,” Coates said. “The leaders of many of these organizations, like the average lay person, is just not aware of the science.”
New York University professor Marion Nestle said that minority communities have historically supported the beverage companies, as they have contributed to minority groups such as the NAACP.
“In the past, this community has supported the soda industry in opposing public health measures even though the health impact of sugary drinks is higher in that community,” she said. “It is highly significant that this community is joining the CSPI lawsuit. It should put the soda industry on notice that it needs to stop targeting African Americans who are at high risk of chronic diseases encouraged by sugary drink consumption.”
The lawsuit claims that “reasonable consumers lack the scientific knowledge necessary to determine that many of Defendants’ representations about sugar-sweetened beverages are false and misleading, including that they omit material facts about the link between such beverages and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”
The pastors said that they have attempted to teach their congregants the dangers of sugary beverages but have been thwarted by Coca-Cola’s advertising.
“Pastor Lamar’s efforts to provide spiritual guidance to congregant families and the larger community regarding the hazards posed by sugar-sweetened [sic] beverages are hampered by Defendants’ deceptive marketing, labeling, and sale of Coca-Cola’s sugar-sweetened beverages,” the lawsuit read.
“Faced with a growing scientific consensus linking sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, Defendants made numerous false and deceptive representations, including … sugar-sweetened beverages’ purported value as healthful sources of hydration for most consumers,” it said.
Lamar compared the effects of the beverages to “injustices” in the black community.
“I am disgusted by the number of hospital visits I make,” he told the Post. “It just adds to the injustices all around us.”
Coca-Cola has vowed to defend itself “vigorously.”
“The allegations here are likewise legally and factually meritless, and we will vigorously defend against them,” it said in a statement. “The Coca-Cola Company understands that we have a role to play in helping people reduce their sugar consumption.”
“We support the recommendation of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), that people should limit their intake of added sugar to no more than 10 percent of their total daily calorie intake. We have begun a journey toward that goal,” the statement read. “So we are taking action to offer people more drinks in smaller, more convenient sizes, reducing sugar in many of our existing beverages, and making more low and no-sugar beverage choices available and easier to find at local stores. We’ll also continue making calorie and nutrition information clear and accessible so people can make more informed choices for themselves and their families without the guesswork.”
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