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 largest beverage companies in the world. It owns the majority of the soft drink market around the world, distributing roughly 160 different products. 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."  Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton has criticised the company's reduced sugar options, as a can of Coca-Cola with Stevia still contains 37% of an adult's recommended daily intake of sugar.
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 the Rs. 750 crore[clarification needed] 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 litres of water[clarification needed] 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 hand, gave permission to set up the plant.
In 2017 Greenpeace published a report criticizing Coca-Cola's use of single-use plastic bottles. The report is especially critical of the companies failing to reach the goals it set to source 25% of its bottles from recycled or renewable sources, and the non-existence of targets to reduce its use of single-use bottles since then. Greenpeace also claims that Coca-Cola has actively lobbied against recycling and deposit return schemes in several European countries, while at the same time maintaining a green marketing facade with vague promises and false-solutions such as sizable donations to schemes that put the emphasis of anti-littering on the consumer, instead of the producer of the litter itself.
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 1, 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%.
In 2001, Coca-Cola reportedly paid Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner $150 million for the exclusive global marketing rights to at least one Harry Potter movie and subsequently enticing children to drink more soft drinks, a move criticised by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
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.
Connection to Israeli far right wing
On May 7, 2017 Haaretz published that Coca-Cola has donated 50,000 NIS (approximately $14,000) to far right wing organization Im Tirtzu. The organization, that was declared by Israeli court to have "certain lines of resemblance to fascism", asked to leave the donation private but the Israeli Corporations Authority forced the Organization to publish the donation.
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.
Turedi v. Coca Cola Co.
In 2005, 105 Coca-Cola employees in Turkey were terminated for their union activity and these employees, some of whom were joined by family members, were physically attacked by members of the Cevik Kuvvet during peaceful demonstrations against their terminations.
- King, Monroe M. "John Stith Pemberton (1831-1888)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 02 August 2016. Web. 07 November 2016.
- 2. Pendergrast, Mark For God, Country, and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It, 3d ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2013)
- Marshall, Bill and Johnston, Cristina. "France and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History". California: ABC Clio, 2005. Web. 5 Nov. 2016, p.21.
- Benjamin, Ludy T. "Pop Psychology: The man who saved Coca-Cola" American Psychological Association, 2009. Web. 5 Nov. 2016.
- "Liverpool in drive to name and shame fizzy drink brands". Guardian. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
- Whiteman, Honor. "How Coca-Cola affects your body". Medical News Today. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
- Stanton, Rosemary. "Coke has promised 'less sugar', but less is still too much". The Conversation. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- "Coke Sued for Fraudulent Claims on Obesity-Promoting "VitaminWater"". Center for Science in the Public Interest. January 15, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- "Statement on The glacéau vitaminwater Lawsuit". Archived from the original on 2013-01-16.
- "Coca-Cola sued over VitaminWater claims". MSNBC.
- "Raising awareness of labelling in one's own language. Coca-Cola in Catalan". Linguamon. Retrieved 4 Dec 2013.
- "India Resource Center - How a Global Web of Activists Gives Coke Problems in India". www.indiaresource.org. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages v. Perumatty Grama Panchayat, W.A. No. 2125 of 2003 and W.A. No. 215 of 2004, 2005 (2) KLT 554. See also the case of Pepsico India Holdings v. State of Kerala, WP(C) Nos. 27334 of 2003 & 27736 of 2004, 2007 (2) KLT 835 concerning Kanjikode
- Civil Appeal Nos. 4033 & 4034 of 2009
- MP CM not to attend Coca Cola plant bhoomi pujan, Jan 10, 2017, The Times of India.
- MP residents oppose Coca Cola factory, say water level would go down further, Newsbits.
- "Shareholder Resolution". proxyinformation.com. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- See also the case of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages v. Sangli-Miraj & Kupwad Municipal Corporation, Civil Appeal Nos. 4917 & 4918 of 2011 (2011-07-04)
- "Coca-Cola wins Federal Court case, cash for containers recycling found illegal".
- "Anger at Coke's successful bid to abolish Northern Territory recycling deposit".
- "The Case Against Coca-Cola, How the biggest soft drinks company is failing to address ocean plastic pollution" (PDF). Greenpeace. 2017-10-01. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
- Bhushan, Ratna (30 August 2017). "Rs 1,400 crore may fizz out of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo coffers as Tamil Nadu traders mulling to ban products". Retrieved 30 August 2017 – via The Economic Times.
- "Coke thrashes out EPA deal after $278,000 ammonia fine threat", Ben Bouckley. Beverage Daily. March 18, 2014. Retrieved 17 feb 2017
- "Coke, EPA to reach settlement in Clean Air Act ammonia violation charges", Shane O'Halloran. Food Engineering Magazine. March 19, 2014. Retrieved 17 feb 2017
- Goodman, Brenda (31 May 2007). "Pepsi and Coke Agree to Stop Financing Research That Uses Animals". New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- "PepsiCo Inc". allbusiness.com. Retrieved 2006-05-21.
- "EU makes Coke throw open fridges". BBC. 2005-06-22.
- "Mexican shopkeeper defeats Coke". BBC. 2005-11-17.
- "afp.google.com, Coca-Cola settles stockholder lawsuit with 137 million". Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- "uk.reuters.com, Coca-Cola agrees to settlement in shareholder lawsuit". Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- "Coca-Cola in South Africa," The Africa Fund, July 1986, http://africanactivist.msu.edu/document_metadata.php?objectid=32-130-133A
- "Coca-Cola: Things Go Worse for Workers." in "The Struggle for Justice in South Africa... and here at home," Washington, D.C., Washington Office on Africa Education Fund, February 1984, p. 6. http://africanactivist.msu.edu/document_metadata.php?objectid=32-130-1000
- "African Activist Archive". Africanactivist.msu.edu. Retrieved 2012-11-03.
- "African Activist Archive". Africanactivist.msu.edu. Retrieved 2012-11-03.
- "Coca-Cola Acts to Cut All Ties With S. Africa," Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1986, http://articles.latimes.com/1986-09-18/news/mn-11241_1_south-africa
- "African Activist Archive". Africanactivist.msu.edu. Retrieved 2012-11-03.
- "Coke vs. Pepsi: The Cola Wars in South Africa during The Anti-Apartheid Era," by John Kirby Spivey, M.A. Thesis, Georgia State University Department of History, 2009. http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/history_theses/35
- "Coke vs Pepsi in SA - Investment Insights". Moneyweb. Retrieved 2012-11-03.
- Global Campaign Protests Coca-Cola's Use of 'Harry Potter' to Market Junk Food, Centre for Science in the Public Interest https://cspinet.org/new/saveharry.html Retrieved 19 July 2017
- Anahad O'Conner, "Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets", New York Times, August 9, 2015. 2016-10-07.
- Yotam Berger  Haaretz, May 7th 2017
- Noam Sheizaf,  972magazine, September 8, 2013
- Ben White (2002-04-18). "Black Coca-Cola Workers Still Angry". Washington Post.
- Annys Shin (2004-06-10). "Foundation Helps Sodexho Counter Discrimination Suit". Washington Post.
- Turedi v. Coca Cola Co. No. 05 Civ. 9635 https://www.leagle.com/decision/2006967460fsupp2d5071917 Retrieved 19 December 2017