PhotoDoes anyone really think Coca-Cola is free of artificial flavors and chemical preservatives? Paul Merritt apparently thinks so. At least he claims in a California lawsuit that Coca-Cola labels fail to list phosphoric acid as an artficial flavor and preservative.

"Indeed, many of the cartons and containers of defendants' Coca-Cola brand sodas affirmatively and falsely state that they contain no artificial flavoring or chemical preservatives," the complaint states, Courthouse News Service reported.

We didn't have a Coca-Cola product available for inspection but numerous online photos of Coke labels show that phosphoric acid is clearly listed among the ingredients. Merritt's contention, however, rests around whether phosphoric acid is "natural." 

In his lawsuit, Merritt claims that Coca-Cola states on its website that it adds phosphoric acid to sodas to improve their flavor and "tartness" and protect them from spoiling. He alleges that Coke claims on its website that, "Phosphoric acid contains phosphorous, one of the basic elements of nature and an essential nutrient. Phosphorous is a major component of bones."

But Merritt claims that phosphorous and phosphoric acid "are two different things" and that phosphoric acid is not derived from natural ingredients, such as spices, fruits, barks or herbs.

"Defendants knowingly and intentionally falsely stated that Coca-Cola soda has 'no artificial flavors. No preservatives added,' despite the fact that Coca-Cola soda contains artificial flavoring and chemical preservatives," the complaint states.

Merritt seeks restitution and a variety of other remedies.

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