Thursday, December 18, 2008

Coke to unveil natural diet drink in U.S.: report

Coke to unveil natural diet drink in U.S.: report

(Reuters) – Coca-Cola Co is expected to launch a drink in the U.S. this week containing a natural, calorie-free sweetener, the Wall Street Journal said.

Coke is pushing ahead even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as of Sunday hadn't issued formal approval of the ingredient, the paper said.

Coke plans to market three flavors of a juice drink in its Odwalla line that contain the sweetener, derived from the herb stevia, the paper said citing people familiar with Coke's plans.

Coca-Cola's rival PepsiCo Inc has several drinks ready to go in the U.S. market with the sweetener, the paper said, adding that the company is waiting for the FDA to clear the additive.

Stevia is approved for use in at least 12 countries and as a dietary supplement in the U.S., according to the paper.

After some studies suggested adverse health effects from stevia-based products, such as potential mutations in the livers of rats, the FDA concluded in the early 1990s that data weren't sufficient to allow its use as a food additive, the paper said.

Coke, Pepsi and companies they are working with told the paper that their sweetener -- called Truvia by Coke and PureVia by Pepsi -- is more highly purified than the versions of stevia used in those earlier tests, and that new data have been submitted to the FDA.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo could not be immediately reached for comment by Reuters.

(Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

No comments: