Welch’s Threatened With Lawsuit
Do you drink grape juice to ward off cardiovascular disease? If so, you may be doing a disservice to your heart. Yesterday the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit consumer advocacy group that focuses on nutrition, sent a letter to Welch Food Inc. threatening to sue the company if they do not remove heart-health claims from its juices, spreads, fruit juice cocktails, and fruit snacks. According to the CSPI, not only do these foods not improve heart health, they may actually harm it by contributing to insulin resistance and obesity.
Welch’s depends on the presence of polyphenols and vitamin C in grape juice to justify its claims, but only cites studies that were uncontrolled, conducted on animals, or actually showed that grape juice was ineffective at providing the cardiovascular benefit associated with polyphenols, says the CSPI. The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements also found no link between vitamin C and heart health.
Furthermore, as part of its marketing, Welch’s claims that drinking grape juice is an easy way to include more fruit in a healthy diet. However, the CSPI argues that grape juice’s high sugar and calorie content negate any of its health benefits. One eight-ounce serving of Welch’s 100 percent grape juice contains 36 grams of sugar and 140 calories—about one-third more than the same amount of Coca-Cola. "Most Americans concerned about their weight and risk of diabetes would actually do well to drink less juice," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "It's deceptive and misleading for Welch's to claim that grape juice has any special benefit to heart health."
Welch’s uses a similar heart-shaped logo on its fruit juice cocktails, which are only 25 percent juice, as well as on jams, spreads, and fruit snacks. One particular fruit snack variety—Welch’s Berries ‘n Cherries—bears the phrase “Reward Your Heart” and claims to be “Made With REAL Fruit” despite being composed mostly of apple and pear juice concentrates. "These juices are “similar to empty-calorie sugar syrup, along with corn syrup, sugar, and modified cornstarch,” the letter states. “On the ingredients list, fruit purees come long after all of these unhealthful and non-nutritious ingredients. Almost half of each Fruit Snacks pouch is comprised entirely of sugar.”
CSPI encouraged Welch’s to resolve these issues, but said they would pursue a lawsuit if no action was taken. CSPI is currently involved in cases to improve the labeling or marketing of products made by companies such as General Mills (fruit snacks, Nature Valley granola bars) and Coca-Cola (Vitaminwater).
What do you think? Is Welch’s guilty of making false food claims or is CSPI being nitpicky? Post a comment below.
Update: Welch's Responds
||Log In With Facebook to post a comment|