The FDA is “raising questions” as to whether certain functional beverages are now legal or not. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has just announced new guidance (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)) related to the difference between liquid dietary supplements and beverages bearing novel ingredients.
According to the FDA, “We have seen an increase in the marketing of beverages as dietary supplements, in spite of the fact that the packaging and labeling of many liquid products represent the products as conventional foods. Products that are represented as conventional foods do not meet the statutory definition of a dietary supplement…”
The FDA further explains, “Liquid products that suggest through their serving size, packaging, or recommended daily intake that they are intended to be consumed in amounts that provide all or a significant part of the entire daily drinking fluid intake of an average person in the US, are represented as beverages.” Such products, the FDA said, “may not be marketed as a dietary supplement.”
I can’t help but to believe that the FDA is again using draconian hyperbole to attack the nutrition industry. In a bizarre Catch-22 way, the FDA is suggesting that these liquid dietary supplements, labeled as such and fully compliant with the federal labeling requirements, are more harmful to a consumer than conventional beverages such as carbonated soft drinks.
Carbonated soft drinks, and the huge economic interests behind them, are the beverages of choice for most Americans. Yet, since the 1950’s the average size of a soda has increased 149%, from 6.5 oz to 16.2 oz. Soda is the #1 source of added sugar in the American Diet, and each American consumes an average of 50 gallons of soft drinks per year. In fact, almost half of the additional caloric growth in our diet since the 1970’s come from soda. And the calories keep mounting as America is facing an obesity epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. has by far the highest proportion of overweight and obese consumers of any nation, with 65.8% of all adults in that category. These overweight Americans result in approximately $238 billion in medical costs each year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health. Childhood obesity doubled between 1980 and 1994. Meanwhile, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, per capita soft-drink consumption has increased by almost 500% over the past 50 years. For each additional daily serving of soda the children drank, both body mass index and obesity risk increased by 60%.
Not to villainize soft drinks, but it seems the FDA has bigger fish to fry. Consider also that the FDA is applying their subjective interpretation of a liquid product suggesting that it is a “conventional beverage”. While some of these beverages are not always marketed in the most ethical manner, you know like carbonated soft drinks have been over the past 50 years, most of them contain scientifically supported bioactive nutrients which promote health & wellness.
I suppose as long as the American health care economic engine depends upon healing the sick, the FDA will continue to suppress and interfere with products and stakeholders who are promoting health and prevention.