FDA Warns Green Tea Makers About Unauthorized Nutrient Claims

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Two popular products featuring green tea as an ingredient have been warned about making unauthorized and unsubstantiated nutritional claims. The US Food and Drug Administration has issued letters to the makers of Lipton Green Tea and Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale regarding the misleading food labeling.

FDA Cracks Down on Misleading Health and Nutrition Claims

The August 23rd FDA letter to Unilever, the New Jersey-headquartered company that owns Lipton, takes issue with the company’s website that uses a trademarked phrase “Tea Can Do That” and mentions four studies that showed the tea had a cholesterol-lowering effect. The agency calls the labeling misleading because it suggests that Lipton tea is designed to treat or prevent disease – in this case, heart disease. Making such a claim would classify the product as a drug, subject to a separate set of requirements that include clinical testing.

The agency also states that Lipton has made statements regarding it’s Green Tea’s antioxidant qualities that do not follow US federal regulations.

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Read: Consumers Often a Target for Misleading Health Claims

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, the Texas-based maker of Canada Dry, was told that the soda cannot carry a claim that the beverage is “enhanced with 200 milligrams of antioxidants from green tea and vitamin C” because those two ingredients are not nutrients with recognized antioxidant activity.

Also, because it is a carbonated beverage and therefore considered a “snack” food, it should not claim to be nutritionally fortified, said the FDA.

Manufacturers are increasingly adding nutrients to their food products in an effort to make their products more appealing to a health-conscious consumer. Nutrient-enriched beverages, in particular, have grown into a multi-billion dollar business in the US.

Both companies have 15 days to respond to the citations and to outline their plans for addressing the issue.

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