The NCL alleges that the product contains more sugar than cranberry and is made from cranberry skins rather than whole cranberries, after it commissioned independent testing by Krueger Laboratories on November 4 – although Ocean Spray claims that cranberries form the main component.
Choice sweetened dried cranberries are sold to food manufacturers as a lower cost alternative to its regular version, for use in products such as muffins, trail mix, granola bars and cereals.
The group’s executive director Sally Greenberg said in a letter to the FDA: “NCL believes that the term ‘sweetened dried cranberry’ has become established by common usage as the name for a food product consisting mainly of cranberries infused with sugar and dried to a specific moisture content. Ocean Spray’s ‘Choice’ product, because of its minimal cranberry content and use of other ingredients to simulate the flavor and color of cranberries, should not be named ‘sweetened dried cranberries.’”
Ocean Spray says that its Choice cranberries are made by infusing a sucrose syrup into “sliced superior grade cranberries”, which is dried and then “lightly sprayed with oil.” The ingredient statement reads: cranberries, sugar, citric acid, elderberry juice concentrate, sunflower oil.
However, no one from Ocean Spray was available for comment prior to publication of this article.
When questioned about what prompted the NCL to look into the cranberry content of the Choice product, Greenberg told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “We had a confidential tip from somebody…The important thing is that we had the product tested and it turns out the allegation is true.”
NCL said it is concerned that the Choice product is “capitalizing on the healthy image of cranberries and cranberry juice" when it is “really little more than cranberry skin infused with sugar syrup.”