THE COCA-COLA COMPANY | Assess and Mitigate Potential Health Harms from Non-Sugar Substitutes at THE COCA-COLA COMPANY

1.57% votes in favour
AGM date
Previous AGM date
Proposal number
Resolution details
Company ticker
Resolution ask
Other ask
ESG theme
  • Social
ESG sub-theme
  • Public health
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Company sector
Consumer Staples
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
Shareholders of The Coca-Cola Company (“Coca-Cola” or the “Company”) request the Board of Directors issue a third party assessment by November 1, 2024, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, on the Company’s efforts to assess and mitigate potential health harms associated with the use of non-sugar sweeteners (“NSS”).
The report should cover how the Company evaluates potential health impacts of NSS in its products, including the safety authorities relied upon for NSS guidance, and the Company’s affiliation with and/or financial support of researchers or research institutions, international agencies, or reporting/regulatory bodies studying or making health or safety recommendations about NSS.
Whereas clause
WHEREAS, The Access to Nutrition Initiative US Index 2022 ranked Coca-Cola last among eleven of the largest US food and beverage companies in delivering healthy, affordable food and beverages, noting that it was the only company in the Index without a nutrient profiling system.
The World Health Organization recently recommended “against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) to control body weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).” Based on a 2022 meta-analysis, no long-term benefits in reducing body fat were identified; findings suggested that long-term use of NSS “increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.”2
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified NSS Aspartame - used in some Coca-Cola products - as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” and a BMJ study found an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, warning that NSS products “should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar.” A 2021 study noted that the combination of Aspartame and sweetener acesulfame-K (both products in Coke Zero) has been shown to increase DNA damaging activity.
Coca-Cola states that 19 of its top 20 brands are NSS beverages, deemed safe by the Company according to testing done by “globally recognized food safety authorities.” Concerns arise from media reports linking findings from the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, which recently reaffirmed safe limits for the use of aspartame, with the International Life Sciences Institute, which has been characterized as a Coca-Cola front group.
A 2018 Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity study found that Coca-Cola disproportionately targeted US teens and Hispanic and Black youth with sugary beverage marketing. The Company has since increased sales of no- and low-calorie options,6 focusing new marketing strategies for the products on communities of color. Another study found a correlation between carbonated soft drink advertising and consumption, regardless of whether marketing was focused on NSS or sugar-sweetened beverages. Thus, the Company may ultimately be expanding a portfolio of harmful products, intentionally targeting populations that consistently have poorer health outcomes than non-Hispanic whites. Considering Coca-Cola's social impact tagline, "People Matter,” it is in the Company’s best interest to create healthy products and promote them equitably.
Supporting statement

How other organisations have declared their voting intentions

Organisation name Declared voting intentions Rationale
VidaCaixa For
Achmea Investment Management For the Cola-Company is lagging behind regarding its strategy to healthy nutrition in comparison to its peers, as the Access to Nutrition Index shows. The company has goals on sugar reduction, but does not address the healthiness of other substances in its large portfolio nor is it transparant on the healthiness of its portfolio. This resolution adressess this topic and adresses the financial material risk of potential health risks of non-sugar substitutes on which the company relies.
Anima Sgr For The issue of a third-party assessment of safety of non-sugar sweeteners would help investors better understand the effectiveness of the company's programs to assess and mitigate potential health harms associated with the use of non-sugar sweeteners.
LocalTapiola Asset Management Ltd For A vote FOR this proposal is warranted, as additional disclosure would help shareholders better understand the effectiveness of the company's programs to assess and mitigate potential health harms associated with the use of non-sugar sweeteners.
Rothschild & co Asset Management For

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