FDA: Improper Health Claims on 2 Green Teas

Agency Says Manufacturers of Green Tea Beverages Make Unauthorized Nutritional Claims

From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 8, 2010 -- The FDA has warned the manufacturers of two popular green tea beverages that some of their nutritional claims are unauthorized and in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The FDA issued warning letters to Dr Pepper Snapple Group of Plano, Texas, about its Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale, and Unilever Americas of Edgewood, N.J., regarding its Lipton Green Tea 100% Naturally Decaffeinated product.

The FDA warned the companies not to make misleading claims about nutrients in products that imply or claim to provide health benefits.

In its letter to Dr Pepper Snapple, dated Aug. 30, the FDA said the company's Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea product makes improper claims to be "enhanced" with antioxidants.

The FDA said the product is classified as a snack food. The FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages.

The FDA said that Unilever makes therapeutic claims on its web site about its Lipton Green Tea 100% Naturally Decaffeinated product by linking its ingredients to lowering cholesterol. Claiming cholesterol-lowering benefits, the FDA said in a warning letter to Unilever dated Aug. 23, would make the company's Lipton Green Tea a drug and thus subject to federal requirements governing safety and effectiveness.

"The therapeutic claims on your web site establish that the product is a drug because it is intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease," the FDA said in its warning letter to Unilever. "Your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product is not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses and therefore, the product is a 'new drug.'"

The letter said new drugs cannot be legally marketed without prior approval from the FDA.

The FDA told Unilever its description of its tea's antioxidant content runs contrary to federal rules governing wording of products.

According to federal regulations, companies that receive warning letters from the FDA are required to reply within 15 days with a plan for fixing problems.

Jason Genthner, a spokesman for Dr Pepper Snapple, said in an email that company officials had "received the FDA's letter and are reviewing its contents." He said Dr Pepper Snapple is looking "forward to working with the FDA and addressing the issues raised."

Dean Mastrojohn, a spokesman for Unilever, said the company is "carefully reviewing the contents of the letter" and is "committed to full compliance with the law."

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Sources

SOURCES:

FDA warning letter to Dr Pepper Snapple, dated Aug. 30, 2010.

FDA warning letter to Unilever Americas, dated Aug. 23, 2010.

Jason Genthner, spokesman, Dr Pepper Snapple.

Dean Mastrojohn, spokesman, Unilever.

© 2010 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.