Archive for the ‘Dietary Supplement Act’ Category

Power Drinks, Cheerios, the FDA, and Us

Monday, July 20th, 2009

In 2005 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported that 71% or 117 of 165 sports nutrition products on sale violated regulations regarding nutritional information or labeling requirements. The expected results were concerted attacks and complaints by industry on the agency’s scientific methods. Nestlé Canada, however, the maker of Powerbar®, who complied with regulations, spoke out in support of CFIA’s initiative, saying that it will “rid the marketplace of products with illegal ingredients and claims“.

Here in this country, the Dietary Supplement Act of 1994 has overridden FDA pre-marketing responsibility for the safety of food and drugs. No longer would the FDA even regulate advertising claims, which became the purview of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As long as these products did not claim to treat or prevent disease, manufacturers could claim their diet supplements in any food or drink, enhanced performance, “energized,” controlled appetite, accelerated fat loss, relieved pain, “detoxified,” in short use their imagination to make virtually any claim.  Thanks to the 1990 Nutrition labeling and Nutrition Act, and 1993 supplemental rules by the FDA, in response to a 1995 petition submitted by Quaker Oats, the FDA in 1997 authorized the first food-specific health claim related to coronary disease (CHD) risk reduction.

The FDA did finally go after Quaker Oats for claims that Cheerios reduced cholesterol, but Quaker Oats simply changed the TV and other promotion to claim that the cereal could “help reduce cholesterol.”  If you like Cheerios, though, you can convince yourself you’ll live longer.

Power Drinks and the Market

How about the enticing  $18 billion a year market for power drinks? It hardly compares with the $70 billion a year soft drink market. Makers like Coca Cola are upgrading to new and ever more intensely promoted voodoo health drinks, e.g. Coke with Diet Coke Plus®, Full Throttle®, Pepsico with Tava®, Nestlé and Coke with Envige®, and Anheuser Busch, makers of Low Calorie 180 Blue® with Açaí “which uses only the highest quality ingredients, including carbonated water, vitamins B6, B12, C , …A serving of açaí berries has 80% RDA of antioxidants and it is said to contain 33 times more antioxidants than red wine grape.”

Literally hundreds of sports and power beverages adorn the soft drink aisles of your favorite supermarket: Max Velocity, Rockstar®, Monster, Sobe No Fear®, Red Bull® among others, most with various vitamins, minerals, amino acids (taurine, carnitine, arginine,) caffeine, and ginseng or other herbals. Retail prices are steep with Monster at $1.99 for 16 oz., Max Velocity® at $1.49 for 8 oz, and Red Bull® at $1.99 for 8.3 oz.

It reminds me of the cost of upscale bottled water in the range of $3.00 or more per gallon. And we complain about the cost of gasoline! (Think how much money you throw out every week in a country where municipal tap water is almost invariably superior and safer than the bottled product.)

Stay tuned.