Citing the harm sugary drinks have caused to the African-American community, two black pastors in the Washington, D.C., area filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association, in which they alleged Coca-Cola deliberately misled consumers about the alleged dangers of soda.
The plaintiffs, Pastors William Lamar and Delman Coates and public-health group Praxis, claim in their complaint filed in the D.C. Superior Court Coca-Cola and the ABA engaged in “false, deceptive, and misleading advertising and promotion of sugar-sweetened beverages.”
Lamar, Coates and Praxis say consumers have been duped into believing sugary drinks aren’t so bad for their health by Coca-Cola’s advertising and other outreach efforts. The plaintiffs specifically cite Coca-Cola’s decision to “omit material facts” about the link between sugar and health problems in their advertising and consumers’ lack of knowledge about the dangers of soda.
“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 complaint states.
“It’s become really clear to me that we’re losing more people to the sweets than to the streets,” Coates said, according to a report by the Washington Post. “There’s a great deal of misinformation in our communities, and I think that’s largely a function of these deceptive marketing campaigns.”
The lawsuit alleges the two pastors have repeatedly tried to teach their congregations about the harmful effects of sugar, but have been stymied 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 sugarsweetened [sic] beverages are hampered by…