Gummy maker directed to drop health claim linked to apple cider vinegar content

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - serggn
©Getty Images - serggn

Related tags Apple cider vinegar Health claims Health claims regulation

A manufacturer’s claim that its apple cider vinegar gummies contain a health-promoting dose of the ingredient has been rejected by the National Advertising Division.

NAD, which is a division of BBB National Programs, recently took up a case concern claims made by Goli Nutrition, Inc.  on its line of apple cider vinegar gummies. The initial complaint was lodged by competitor Bragg Live Food Products LLC, which markets the best-selling brand of apple cider vinegar in the natural channel.

The NAD ruled that the Goli gummies had enough apple cider vinegar in them to be able to make a legitimate claim on its presence.  NAD also ruled that claims about the taste of the gummies, in which Goli said they tasted of apple, not vinegar, were supported.

How much vinegar is enough?

At issue was whether the Goli gummies had enough vinegar content to be able to claim that they provided the health benefits that have come to be attributed to the substance.

In recent years some companies and social media health influencers have been touting the health benefits of apple cider vinegar containing what’s called ‘The Mother.’ This refers to a biofilm of acetic acid bacteria that ferment alcohol into vinegar.  In unrefined and unfiltered products it gives the vinegar a cloudy appearance.

The presence of the bacterial cells has been associated with gut health benefits, and apple cider vinegar, which contains some of the polyphenols found in the fruit, is itself linked to blood sugar and anti obesity benefits.  Recent research has even suggested a potential neuroprotective effect​.

The question is how much vinegar is needed? There is at present little agreement among researchers about the dosing of apple cider vinegar nor is there any regulatory guidance on the subject. But a dose of one to two tablespoons daily is often cited.  That works out to about 15 grams to 30 grams of vinegar.

The Goli gummies contain 500 mg of vinegar per gummy, and the company recommends consumers eat two or three gummies a day.  That would equate to a dose of 1.5 grams at most. That’s not enough to make or imply a health claim, NAD ruled. 

“NAD recommended that Goli discontinue or modify its advertising to avoid conveying the unsupported message that the amount of ACV contained in its gummies is associated with the health benefits of traditional liquid ACV,”​ the group said in a statement.

In its advertiser statement, Goli stated that it is a "strong supporter of the self-regulatory process,"​ however it will appeal NAD's decision because it disagrees with NAD's findings that its advertising conveys unsupported implied messages, that its recommended dosage claim is in dispute before the NAD, and with NAD's exercise of jurisdiction "over these issues and over other advertising that is at issue in pending federal litigation."

Appeals of NAD rulings are heard by the NAD’s review board.  Goli did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication of this report.

Second NAD case regarding gummies

This is the second NAD case concerning the Goli apple cider vinegar gummies in less than a year.  In the previous case the company agreed to drop claims associated with the vitamin B12 content​ of the gummies.  Goli no longer makes claims regarding the gummies’ vitamin content (the formula also includes vitamin B9).

Recently Bragg also sued a liquid vinegar competitor​ it alleges is using a label very similar to that of the Bragg product.  The company alleges this is an attempt to mislead consumers.

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