For the second time this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned a beverage company that products labeled as supplements must be sold and marketed as supplements, not beverages. Recently, the FDA sent a letter to Rockstar cautioning the company that, despite being labeled as supplements, its Coffee & Energy products are represented, advertised, and sold as beverages. And because the products contain gingko, an unapproved food and beverage additive, the agency has deemed the line to be “adulterated.”The letter to Rockstar follows a similar one that the FDA sent in March to Revolt Distribution, which markets Slowtivate Relaxation Drink. The FDA warned the company that even though Slowtivate is labeled as a dietary supplement, the product has the appearance and representation of a conventional beverage and considered unsafe because of its inclusion of melatonin, which, like Gingko, is an unapproved additive, according to FDA guidelines.Rockstar said it would reformulate Rockstar Roasted without the additive and that it would also voluntarily remove it from the rest of the Rockstar line before the end of the year.In its letter to Rockstar, the FDA stated that the company’s use of the term “energy supplement” on its Coffee & Energy labels and the use of a “Supplement Facts” panel for nutrition labeling “do not make [its] products dietary supplements, because [the] products are represented for use as conventional foods.” The FDA lists a number of examples and factors to support its argument including Rockstar’s use of the word “coffee,” which the agency states is a word commonly held to describe a beverage and a conventional food.
As the FDA continues to wade into the issue of companies labeling products as supplements versus conventional beverages, Justin Prochnow, an attorney with Greenberg Traurig and expert in regulatory issues regarding consumer product companies, said that beverage companies need to be extremely cautious in how they label and market their products.
“This follow-up to the Slowtivate letter posted in March over the use of melatonin in a product labeled as a supplement, but deemed to be a beverage by the FDA, only serves to further the notion that it is vitally important to be consistent in your labeling and references to your product,” said Prochnow. “If you sell your product as a supplement, reference it as a supplement at every turn.”
Starbucks Founder Schultz Addresses IFT
Delivering the keynote address at The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual trade show in Las Vegas, Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz related how Starbucks endured and eventually mitigated the effects of its recent troubles. Having taken an 8-year hiatus from the company he founded, Schultz returned to Starbucks in 2008 to help lead it through the economic downturn which had hit the hitherto rapidly expanding chain particularly hard.According to Schultz, the company survived this stretch by keeping true to the values and principles upon which it had been founded. Expanding on the message, Schultz explained that companies can prevail and even succeed amidst the still-difficult economic conditions by doing as Starbucks did, operating with transparency and authentically.Refreshingly, the attendees and exhibitors at this year’s IFT were as authentic and transparent as ever. Green technologies, although more typically associated with packaging suppliers, are also an important driving force in the ingredient supply industry.One such example of green ingredient sourcing came from Blue Marble Biomaterials, which produces natural flavors and fragrances using waste materials such as spent coffee grounds, beer mash, and forestry products. The company spins the straw of these waste products into ingredient gold using proprietary polyculture fermentation technology, AGATE, short for Acid, Gas, and Ammonia Targeted Extraction. This technology employs various kinds of bacteria in a production chain to breakdown the plant material and, in doing so, create extracts and oils such as lavender, cinnamon, pine, and roasted coffee.
Natural sweeteners continue to make waves in the supply industry. Some of the momentum maintained by stevia in recent years has transferred to luo han guo or monk fruit, the only other high-intensity, naturally-derived sweetener. Tate & Lyle, which markets its monk fruit-based sweetener, PureFruit, to beverage companies, was handing out samples of a soon-to-launched table top version. Sold in packets under the Nectresse brand name, it will be marketed by McNeil Nutritionals per an arrangement similar to that which is currently in place between the companies for the marketing of table top Splenda. Though the Nectresse brand will not be found on beverage labels, the launch of the table top monk fruit sweetener is a clear sign that the companies behind it feel monk fruit is ready for the mainstream.
Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the event is the largest gathering of supplier and food scientists in the country with over 1,000 exhibitors showcasing their flavors, ingredients and processing technologies.
WILD Flavors Acquires Cargill’s Global Juice Cold Blends & Compounds Business
WILD Flavors GmbH has completedthe acquisition of Cargill’s global juice cold blends and compounds business after receiving all necessary antitrust approvals.The acquisition, which was first announced on April17, 2012, is a key step in the company’s global growth strategy and further strengthens its position as the leading natural ingredients company for the food and beverage industry.“Combining our expertise with the capabilities of the newly acquired business enables WILD to offer the most complete product portfolio in the global juice business,” said Michael H. Ponder, CEO of WILD Flavors. “This further supports WILD Flavors’ unique market position as the truly single source of supply for all of the natural ingredients our customers need to produce a high-quality, finished beverage product,” he added.WILD will have a much broader product portfolio and will be the ideal partner to its customers at all stages of the developing process for new juice-based beverages.
The acquisition adds a global network of three production and storage facilities with direct sea access in Japan, the Netherlands and the United States to WILD Flavors’ existing operations. This differentiated and integrated supply chain is an essential asset to meet the fast-growing demand for fruit juices in these geographical areas over the coming years.