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Coke says it will help calorie counters

Coca-Cola Co. is making most of its nutritional-data labels easier to read amid calls for a tax on soda to help fight obesity. Coca-Cola Co. is making most of its nutritional-data labels easier to read amid calls for a tax on soda to help fight obesity. (Business Wire)
Associated Press / October 1, 2009

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CHICAGO - Amid pressure on lawmakers to tax sugary sodas, which some health experts implicate in rising obesity rates, Coca-Cola Co. will alter packaging on almost all of its products to display nutritional information more prominently.

Calories-per-serving and servings-per-container details will appear on products sold in more than 200 countries. Only fountain drinks, water, and beverages sold in reusable bottles will be exempt from the switch.

The company said it hopes the black text in a white oblong box will be more convenient for customers who want information at a glance.

“Now more than ever, people expect facts about the products they consume to be both readily available and visible,’’ chief executive Muhtar Kent said.

But some critics see little more than an effort to fend off a possible tax, including a levy being promoted in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“One might perceive this move as the companies trying to make an appearance of good-faith efforts to improve nutrition, where their real motive might be to fight off government regulation,’’ said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, who with others proposed the tax in the medical journal. It calls for a 1-cent-per-ounce sales tax on the sometimes-caloric and sugary drinks, an amount more than double the average state tax.