Coke draws the fizz for myth-busting ad

COCA-COLA has been forced to defend advertisements starring the actress Kerry Armstrong after a chorus of protest from pressure groups.

The Australian Dental Association has called on the company to withdraw the full-page ad - which busts myths that fizzy drinks are unhealthy - saying the information was either ambiguous or wrong.

The association took exception to the claim that the ad busted the "myth" that Coke rots teeth.

Its president, Dr John Matthews, said: "We shouldn't rely upon Coca-Cola for giving us dental health advice. They have underestimated the problem and put a spin on it. Most people know Coke is bad for them but they continue to do it so I don't know why Coca-Cola feels the need to do this."

The ad claims saliva quickly washes away the drink, minimising decay, but Mr Matthews said this would not be the case for many people who sip and "constantly bathe" their mouth in soft drinks throughout their day. "And to say tooth decay isn't a major problem is suggesting [the problem is receding]. It is in countries with access to fluoride but it's still a big health problem," he said.

The association is weighing up whether to complain to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for false and misleading claims.

Craig Sinclair, a spokesman for The Parents Jury, a 3000-strong online panel of parents, said the ads were similar to those featuring the former Play School presenter Monica Trapaga promoting the nutritious qualities of Coco Pops.

"They're clearly using the same approach, that is to make people feel OK about drinking Coke. We are very concerned," Mr Sinclair said.

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said it stuck by its ads. "We wanted to bust the myth that you can't consume Coca-Cola and have healthy teeth. This is simply not true."