Criticism of Coca-Cola
Criticism of Coca-Cola dates back to its first ever product, invented by Doctor John Stith-Pemberton in 1886. The Coca-Cola Company is one of the most renowned beverage companies in the world. It owns the majority of the soft drink market around the world, distributing roughly 160 different products. According to Forbes Magazine, Coca-Cola is one of the world's most innovative companies with a net worth of 192.8 billion. Since the early 2000s, the criticisms over the use of Coca-Cola products as well as the company itself, escalated with concerns over health effects, environmental issues, animal testing, economic business practices and employee issues. The Coca-Cola Company has been faced with multiple lawsuits concerning the various criticisms.
- 1 History
- 2 Products
- 3 Environmental issues
- 4 Animal testing
- 5 Economic business practices
- 6 Employee issues
- 7 References
John Stith-Pemberton, was an American Pharmacist and the founder of Coca-Cola. Born in Crawford County, GA on January 8, 1831, Pemberton was considered “the most noted physician Atlanta ever had” by Atlanta newspapers. Pemberton graduated and received his medical license in 1850 from the Southern Botanico Medical College of Georgia  and shortly after studied to become a pharmacist. This led to the opening of his practice where he began to experiment with products such as medicinal wine.
French Wine Coca
In 1866, Doctor John Stith-Pemberton, started experimenting with opium-free drugs in attempts to cure his morphine addiction due to an injury he sustained while fighting in the Civil War in April 1865. He later created a product he called French Wine Coca, which he admitted was an imitation but a better version of then popular Vin Mariani by Parisian chemist Angelo Mariani. Pemberton’s French Wine Coca was composed of 3 main ingredients. Pemberton’s advertisement read “ the medical virtues of the Erythroxylon Coca plant of Peru, South America — African Cola Nuts — true Damiana, with pure Grape Wine.”  The difference between Pemberton’s French Wine Coca and Angelo Mariani’s Vin Mariani was that Pemberton’s French Wine Coca was made of two additional ingredients that Vin Mariani did not have. Vin Mariani was simply made with Bordeaux wine and coca leaves. Pemberton’s French Wine Coca quickly became very popular until a vote by the state legislature Atlanta and Fulton County in favour of the national temperance movement.
The national temperance movement prohibited the use of alcohol and heavily criticized medicinal wine such as French Wine Coca. Pemberton was forced to drop the wine ingredient in his French Wine Coca. After some further experimenting, he decided on the use sugar syrup as a substitution for the wine and that is when Coca-Cola was born.
Frank Robinson and Coca-Cola
The name Coca-Cola as well as its logo were created by Frank Robinson. Robinson, born in 1844, was John Pemberton's partner and bookkeeper. He had an important role in early marketing and advertising of Coca-Cola, creating the white handwriting on the red background. He created the famous logo, while also handwriting its script. The main reasons Robinson chose the name Coca-Cola were because of its two main ingredients (coca leaves and kola nuts) and because it sounded like an alliteration. The early success of Coca-Cola was thanks to Frank Robinson. John Pemberton had taken a break and left Robinson to make, promote as well as sell Coca-Cola on his own. He promoted the drink the best he could with the limited budget that he had and succeeded. Coca-Cola’s first ad read “Coca Cola. Delicious! Refreshing! Exhilarating! Invigorating!” 
Coca-Cola’s first trial
With all of Coca-Cola’s success, came fame, and with the fame came the questions. In 1909, the Pure Food and Drug Act passed, and the United States government seized 40 barrels and 20 kegs of Coca-Cola syrup because they considered the added caffeine to be a harmful ingredient. One of the first noted criticisms of Coca-Cola was that it produced serious mental and motor deficits. This resulted in Coca-Cola’s first lawsuit and trial where the official charges were that Coca-Cola was adulterated and misbranded. The trial following the lawsuit, The United States Government v. Forty Barrels, Twenty Kegs Coca-Cola, started in March 1911 a year and a half after the government had seized the barrels and kegs. Harvey Washington Wiley, a chemist and head of the Bureau of Chemistry in the U.S. Department of Agriculture led the lawsuit. Wiley was anti Coca-Cola mainly because he was against the added caffeine. The trial included many studies as well as paid testimonies from both parties and in the end was dismissed by the judge. However, the United States government ended up winning the case when they took it to the Supreme Court 1916. This resulted in the reduction of caffeine content in Coca-Cola.
In 1916, there was a federal suit under which the US government unsuccessfully attempted to force The Coca-Cola Company to remove caffeine from its products.
In 1944, Escola was a waitress in a restaurant. She was putting away glass bottles of Coca-Cola when one of the bottles spontaneously exploded in her hand. She successfully argued that the company was liable.
Coca-Cola is rich in sugar, especially sucrose, which causes dental caries when consumed regularly. Besides this, the high caloric value contributes to obesity. Both are major health issues in the developed world. According to the Harvard School of Public Health in 2015, "...people who drink 1-2 cans of sugary beverages daily are 26% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, Medical News Today reported on a study claiming 184,000 global deaths each year are down to sugary drink consumption." 
Vitamin Water lawsuit
In January 2009, the US consumer group the Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a class-action lawsuit against Coca-Cola. The lawsuit was in regard to claims made, along with the company's flavors, of Vitamin Water. Claims say that the 33 grams of sugar are more harmful than the vitamins and other additives are helpful. Coca-Cola insists the suit is "ridiculous."
Coca-Cola and Catalan language
In Catalonia, there has been controversy regarding Coca Cola's refusal to print its labels in Catalan. On 12 December 1993, the Platform for the Catalan Language (Plataforma per la Llengua) managed to make a world record by bringing together more than 15,000 empty Coca-Cola cans in Barcelona’s central square Plaça de Catalunya and using them to build a giant sign that read "Let’s label in Catalan". At the time, the organisation adopted the motto: "The Coca-Cola label in 135 languages around the world, but not in Catalan?".
On May 31, 2014 Plataforma per la Llengua, recalling the act of the 12th of December, 1993, collected over 40,000 Coca-Cola cans for making a mosaic with the letters "Etiqueteu en Català!" (Label in Catalan!) in the heart of Barcelona, Catalonia, at Plaça de Catalunya to demand the company label in Catalan after more than 20 years of lawsuits.
In 2014, POM Wonderful unsuccessfully argued that Coca-Cola's Minute Maid division mislabelled a product as a pomegranate and blueberry juice, when it was made 99.4% from apple and grape juices. POM Wonderful said this labelling caused unfair loss of sales of its own pomegranate and blueberry juice.
In March 2004, local officials in Kerala shut down a $16 million Coke bottling plant blamed for a drastic decline in both quantity and quality of water available to local farmers and villagers. In April 2005, the Kerala High Court rejected water use claims, noting that wells there continued to dry up last summer, months after the local Coke plant stopped operating. Further, a scientific study requested by the court found that while the plant had "aggravated the water scarcity situation," the "most significant factor" was a lack of rainfall. The case has been appealed and a decision is pending.
In the investor summit held in Indore, Madhya Pradesh in 2016, the state government allocated land for Coca-Cola plant at Babai in Hoshangabad. The government gave all the required permissions but did not publicize Rs. 750 crore investment project due to the controversies of water exploitation by the company. It became a serious issue and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan distanced himself from the project. The residents of Babai opposed the project as it would consume lakhs of water every day, thereby depleting the water level of river Narmada. In order to stop the project, residents started a signature campaign to garner support for the cause and passed a resolution against the company. They also attacked state government that on one hand, it was talking about taking measures to save the river and on the other, gave permission to set up the plant.
In January 2017, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaipu (TNVSP) called for its members to stop selling Coca Cola and PepsiCo products to show solidarity with local farmers who have been complaining about groundwater depletion caused by these companies. In 2016-17 Tamil Nadu is In the midst of a severe drought which continues to fuel the animosity. TNVSP consists of over 6000 local trade associations and boasts about 1.5 million (15 Lakh) traders across Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state. The boycott came into effect from March 1st, and the majority of the small and medium-sized vendors were reported to have stopped stocking the products. The move continues to receive strong support while continuing to gain momentum during the Jallikattu protests.
In 2007, the Coca-Cola Company announced it would no longer conduct or directly fund laboratory experiments on animals unless required by law to do so. The company's announcement came after PETA criticized the company for funding invasive experiments on animals including one study in which experimenters cut into the face of chimpanzees to study the animals' nerve impulses used in the perception of sweet taste. Some experimenters have criticized PETA's campaign against Coca-Cola and other companies claiming that their work would be undermined if they lost corporate funding.
Economic business practices
In 2000, a United States federal judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit filed by PepsiCo Inc. accusing Coca-Cola Co. of monopolizing the market for fountain-dispensed soft drinks in the United States.
In June 2005, Coca-Cola in Europe formally agreed to end deals with shops and bars to stock its drinks exclusively after a European Union investigation found its business methods stifled competition.
In November 2005, Coca-Cola's Mexican unit - Coca-Cola Export Corporation - and a number of its distributors and bottlers were fined $68 million for unfair commercial practices. Coca-Cola is appealing the case.
"Channel stuffing" settlement
On July 7, 2008, Coca-Cola Co compromised to pay $137.5 million to settle an October 2000 shareholder lawsuit. Coca-Cola was charged in a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, with "forcing some bottlers to purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of unnecessary beverage concentrate to make its sales seem higher." Institutional investors, led by Carpenters Health & Welfare Fund of Philadelphia & Vicinity, accused Coca-Cola of "channel stuffing," or artificial inflation of Coca-Cola's results which gave investors a false picture of the company's health. The settlement applies to Coca-Cola common stock owners from October 21, 1999 to March 6, 2000.
Investments and operations in apartheid South Africa
Coca-Cola entered South Africa in 1938 and, after the beginning of the official white South African government's policy of apartheid or "separate development" beginning in 1948, the company grew rapidly. By the 1980s at the height of racial oppression, with 90% of the market, Coke dominated the soft-drink industry with sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars, accounting for 5% of the parent company's global market. Coke employed 4,500 workers, operating under the racially segregated housing, workplace, and wages, and was one of the largest employers in the country.
In 1982 in South Africa, black workers asked the community to boycott Coke and called two work stoppages until the company agreed to recognize and bargain with their union, raise its workers' low wages significantly, and share information on who controls their pension fund.
As a result of Coke's economic support of white South Africa and its apartheid system, in the 1980s, it became a major target of organizers across the country against U.S. and corporate economic support for apartheid in the U.S. Boycotts then spread across the country to many universities including Tennessee State, Penn State, and Compton College in California, which established a "Coke Free Campus." Demonstrations were held by the Georgia Coalition and the AFSC at Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters.
In South Africa, in 1986, the Coca-Cola response was to donate US$10 million to a fund to support improvements of housing and education for black South Africans and to announce "...plans to sell its 30% share of a major bottler and a 55% share of a canning operation within six to nine months."  (The company's assets there were estimated at US$60 million, their annual sales were circa US$260 million, and with 4,300 workers one of the largest U.S. employers in South Africa.) However, the movement in the U.S. demanded full divestiture and did not accept the company's offer to sell a major portion of the holdings to a South African firm.
After democratic elections that produced Mandela's majority rule government, Pepsi sought to re-enter the South African market. In fact, "Coke never truly left the country, leading to overwhelming dominance through the rest of the 20th century. Pepsi adhered to different social imperatives and suffered exceptionally low market shares as a result."  Indeed, in the late 2000s, Coke's market share of the soft drink market in South Africa was estimated at 95% and Pepsi's at 2%.
On August 9, 2015 the New York Times published an article that revealed that Coca-Cola had made a large investment to the non-profit called the Global Energy Balance Network, which promoted a scientific solution to the obesity crisis, which was that more exercise rather than cutting back on calories was the way to maintain a healthy weight. Health experts stated that the non-profit's message was misleading and part of Coke to deflect criticism about the role the company played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
In November 2000, Coca-Cola agreed to pay $192.5 million to settle a class action racial discrimination lawsuit and promised to change the way it manages, promotes and treats minority employees in the US. In 2003, protesters at Coca-Cola's annual meeting claimed that black people remained underrepresented in top management at the company, were paid less than white employees and fired more often. In 2004, Luke Visconti, a co-founder of DiversityInc, which rates companies on their diversity efforts, said: "Because of the settlement decree, Coca-Cola was forced to put in management practices that have put the company in the top 10 for diversity."
Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co.
In 2001, the Sinaltrainal trade union filed a suit against Coca-Cola in a Miami district court. The union alleged that Coca-Cola bottling partners, Bebidas y Alimentos and Panamco, assisted paramilitaries in murdering several union members. The court decided charges would be considered against the partners but not Coca-Cola itself. On September 4, 2006, Judge Martinez dismissed the remaining claims against the two bottlers.
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