FDA Warns Green Tea Makers about Health Claims
The makers of two brands of green tea drinks received warnings from the Food and Drug Administration about their unauthorized claims regarding the nutritional value of its products.
A warning letter dated August 23 went to Unilever, Inc. about its Lipton Green Tea 100% Naturally Decaffeinated, saying that claims about the tea’s antioxidant content and linking of green tea to lower cholesterol makes the tea a drug and subject to proof of safety and effectiveness. The letter goes on to say, “The therapeutic claims on your website establish that the product is a drug because it is intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. 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 August 30 warning to Dr Pepper Snapple Group, makers of Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale, said the carbonated drink is classified as a snack food and does not meet federal requirements to carry the claim that it is “enhanced with 200 mg of antioxidants from green tea and vitamin C” and that the ingredients are “not nutrients with recognized antioxidant activity.”
A recent post on LiveScience suggested that home-brewed green or black tea contains more antioxidants than store-bought bottled teas — some containing amounts so tiny that you would have to drink 20 bottles to get the antioxidants equal to one cup of tea. Store-bought bottled teas also may contain large amounts of sugar.
According the LA Times, the letters are the latest in a series of warnings about nutritional claims by food makers and part of an FDA campaign to improve food labeling. Companies that receive warning letters are 15 days to respond with a plan for correction the errors.
The FDA is rightly concerned about the health claims of store-bought bottled tea, but don’t get the wrong idea — tea is still good for you.
The Real Health Benefits of Green Tea
Store-bought bottled teas aside, the Harvard Women’s Health Watch says that drinking green tea is healthy, largely due to its high content of flavonoids. Studies have linked drinking green tea with reduced risk for some cancers and heart disease.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) looked at research on stroke and tea consumption and suggested that three cups of green or black tea a day could reduce the risk of ischemic stroke by 20 percent.
In countries where green-tea drinking is common, three cups per day is normal. The best way to get the health benefits of tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Enjoy!
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