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FDA warns about green tea beverage health claims

Consumer Reports News: September 09, 2010 05:10 PM

Don’t buy into antioxidant claims on the labels of two popular green tea drinks just yet. The Food and Drug Administration is calling into question claims made by the manufacturers of Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale and Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated beverage—both of which purport to contain disease-fighting ingredients.

In a warning letter to Unilever, Inc. of Englewood, NJ, the agency states that the company’s website, connects the beverage’s ingredients to lowering cholesterol and says that such a claim places the beverage in the drug category, which requires FDA regulation. In a separate letter to Dr Pepper Snapple Group of Plano, Texas, Canada Dry’s manufacturer, the FDA states "Your Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale bears the claim, 'enhanced with 200 mg of antioxidants.' Your Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale is a carbonated beverage," and goes on to say “the FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages." The agency issued the warning letters late last month and has asked both manufacturers to take prompt action to correct the misbranding violations.

When it comes to the food and beverages, it’s best not to read too much into a manufacturer’s health claims. Cases like this one highlight the increasing importance of checking the fine print on food and beverages you bring home to your family. And if you’re looking to get squeeze vitamins and antioxidants from popular beverages, don’t bother. Stick to tried-and-true sources—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and spices.

Ginger Skinner, Web associate editor

Photo: kyliesdad777

Aaron Bailey

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