The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has challenged Welch Foods over its marketing of fruit snacks, fruit cocktails, spreads and juices as ‘heart healthy’ – and Welch’s has rebuffed the accusations, calling them misguided.
CSPI notified Welch Foods in an August 14 letter that it would sue the company unless it stops making heart health claims, and further accused the firm of using its healthy heart icon on products like spreads and snacks, which it says are “little better than candy”.
“Most Americans concerned about their weight and risk of diabetes would actually do well to drink less juice," said CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson. "It's deceptive and misleading for Welch's to claim that grape juice has any special benefit to heart health."
In a response to the letter , Welch’s said: “CSPI makes a number of misguided accusations regarding Welch’s messaging.”
It goes on to say that there have been many human trials that have demonstrated the heart health benefits of drinking 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes, and it challenges CSPI on its assertion that fruit juice is not a good way to include more fruit in the diet.
“The United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone – adults and children – get more fruit each day. The guidelines also say that 100% juice is one way to add more fruit to the diet as a complement to whole fruit intake,” it said.
The CSPI letter requested that Welch Foods “resolve these instances of illegal and deceptive marketing in order to avoid further legal action”.
Welch’s said it could not comment on a number of specific accusations because they were the subject of potential litigation, but added: “Welch’s has always taken our responsibility to consumers seriously and will continue to take great care in our messages.”
The company is just the latest to be challenged by CSPI over the use of on-pack claims. Earlier this month, it supported a lawsuit against McNeil Nutritionals’ Splenda Essentials sweetener, which CSPI accused of making false claims for its fiber and vitamin-fortified sucralose. And in July, it supported a lawsuit against Nature Valley for claiming its products are natural when they contain high maltose corn syrup and maltodextrin.