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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Coca Cola Co. of Atlanta, 241 U.S. 265 (1916)

United States v. Coca Cola Company of Atlanta

No. 562

Argued February 29, 1916

Decided May 22, 1916

241 U.S. 265


Under the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, the fact that a formula has been made up and followed and a distinctive name therefor adopted does not suffice to take an article from § 7, subd. 5, of the Act. In such a case, the standard by which the combination is to be judged is not necessarily the combination itself.

A poisonous or deleterious ingredient with the injurious effect stated by the statute may be an added ingredient in the statutory sense although it is covered by the formula and made a constituent of the article sold.

In construing § 7, subd. Fifth of the Food and Drugs Act, held that the term "adulteration" is used in a special sense, and its ordinary meaning is not controlling; that an article may be adulterated by the adding of an injurious ingredient including a component part of the article itself; that adulteration must not be confused with misbranding, and provisions as to latter do not limit the explicit provisions of § 7 of adulteration, and that proprietary foods sold under descriptive names are within its provisions, including those which were in the market when the Act was passed.

It would reduce the Food and Drugs Act to an absurdity to so construe it as to regard a compound food product, the formula of which included a poisonous or deleterious ingredient, as adulterated within the meaning of § 7 if such ingredient were omitted.

Whether an added ingredient -- such as caffeine -- is poisonous or deleterious held, in this case, in view of decided conflict of competent evidence, to be a question for the jury.

While a distinctive name may be purely arbitrary, it must be one that distinguishes the article, and where more than one name, each descriptive of an article, are united, it amounts to misbranding if the article sold does not contain any of the articles generally known individually by any of such names. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 241 U. S. 266

The facts, which involve the construction and application of the adulteration and misbranding provisions of the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 241 U. S. 270

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