Celsius: Enviga Settlement Helps Category

Fat burners, beware! Your claims are only as good as the science behind them!

At least, that’s what is implicit in this week’s out-of-court settlement between 27 state attorneys general and partners Nestle Inc. and the Coca-Cola Co., Inc. over the wording of the label of their fast-fading Enviga, according to the maker of a competing product.

“We want to scream from the loudest mountaintop that if you’re going to make a claim, you have to back it up,” said Steve Haley, the founder of Celsius, another product that, like Enviga, relies on a mix of caffeine and green tea to help speed metabolic rates and burn calories.

Thursday’s agreement ended an investigation that began with the Connecticut AG’s office in 2007. At the time, the office was trying to determine the veracity of Enviga’s claims as a “calorie burner.” The settlement seems to allow that terminology, but only with highly qualified language.

Under the terms of the settlement, Coke and Nestle will pay the states $650,000, and the Enviga label will be required to include language that the product will not burn calories without diet and exercise.

At the time of the product’s introduction, in late 2006, scientists from the Coke/Nestle partnership indicated that a scientific study they had conducted showed the product would indeed burn more calories in consumers who were already living lifestyles that included exercise and a healthy diet. But the language must be explicit now, according to the settlement.

The settlement will also serve as a guideline for other products seeking to gain traction as fat or calorie-burning drinks, something that Haley, who introduced his drink a few years before Enviga came out, is pleased to hear. He made it clear that his company has tried to disclose its scientific rationale for Celsius’ effectiveness from the start, including the use of a “Supplement Facts” panel, used by dietary supplements instead of the “Nutrition Panel” favored by the soft drink industry.

With four scientific studies conducted regarding Celsius’ effectiveness instead of the one used by the Coke group, Haley said, “We feel that we’re on firmer ground than they are.”

The guidelines discussed in the settlement – including the diet and exercise language, which Celsius will now display more prominently — might actually help establish the calorie burner category by giving it a regulatory framework, Haley added