Bakery shut down after faking sugar-free products

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Muffins contain twice the fat as labeled
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A bakery is in trouble after putting sugar in products it claimed were sugar-free and for containing twice the amount of fat as stated on the label.

In a news release issued Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that a federal judge has approved a consent decree of permanent injunction against Butterfly Bakery Inc. and its president, Brenda Isaac, for unlawfully distributing misbranded food products, such as muffins and snack cakes.

The New Jersey bakery put sugar in its sugar-free baked goods and put twice the amount of fat in chocolate chip and blueberry muffins as printed on the labels. The judge issuing the consent decree against the bakery and its president did so after the FDA had been warning the company to stop mislabeling its sweets for years.

“This injunction demonstrates that the FDA will seek enforcement action against companies that mislead consumers on the products they purchase,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “Until Butterfly Bakery meets FDA regulations, it will no longer be able to process or distribute their products.”

In 2011, the FDA also warned the company’s chief executive, Brenda Issac, to stop mislabeling the bakery’s products.

According to a letter from agency officials, tests showed the company’s No-Sugar Added Blueberry Muffins contained over twice the fat listed on nutrition labels. One label, for example, says that half a muffin contained 3.5 grams of fat when, in fact, it actually contained 9.4 grams of fat, which is 170 percent more fat than stated on the label – and if consumers were to eat the whole muffin, they would be eating nearly 20 grams of fat, compared to just seven as listed on the label if you ate the entire muffin.

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In another example, the FDA pointed out that the company’s Sugar-Free Double Chocolate Chip Muffins contained about 444 percent more saturated fat than what was listed on the nutrition label. For diabetics seeking sugar-free foods, the mislabeling is particularly worrisome because the FDA also said the product contained sugar in spite of it being branded as Sugar-Free.

“Laboratory analysis showed that foods labeled as ‘sugar free’ contained sugar, and that certain products contained as much as three times the amount of labeled/declared sugar, two times the amount of labeled/declared fat and two times the amount of labeled/declared saturated fat,” said the press release from FDA officials who collected samples of the bakery’s products in December of 2010.

U.S. District Court Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh of the district of New Jersey signed the consent decree on March 5, restraining Butterfly Bakery and Brenda Isaac from processing and distributing food until the company complies with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and applicable regulations.

Under the consent decree, FDA may assess damages against the company for any future violations of the law or the consent decree.

“This injunction demonstrates that the FDA will seek enforcement action against companies that mislead consumers on the products they purchase,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “Until Butterfly Bakery meets FDA regulations, it will no longer be able to process or distribute their products.”

Meanwhile, in a post on its Facebook page today, Butterfly Bakery acknowledged the claims in the yesterday's FDA news release, stating that the company “voluntarily entered into a consent decree and has been working with the FDA and a team of technical and regulatory experts since May 31, 2011, to improve its processes and ensure compliance with all Butterfly Bakery products.”

The Facebook post went onto say that only three out of Butterfly's 45 items were sited, noting that such items “were part of one of the five lines of baked goods that Butterfly produces." However, comments by others in response to the post were not very supportive. As one diabetic stated, "I am shocked that I have been eating your products and telling others about them...I bought your products every week, but no more..."

SOURCES: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (News Release, March 13, 2013)

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