You would think that companies as large and bristling with lawyers as Unilever and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group would know better than to play fast and loose with health claims. Apparently not. On August 23 the FDA slammed them, saying to Canada Dry that “…the soft drink does not meet federal requirements to carry the claim that the drink is “enhanced with 200 mg of antioxidants from green tea and vitamin C.” and the ingredients “are not nutrients with recognized antioxidant activity.” To Lipton they said their labeling is misleading because it suggests Lipton tea is designed to treat or prevent disease. Ouch.

So what happened? Did some over-zealous white lab-coat type come screaming up to the marketing department carrying a rat recently in remission, claiming a glass of green tea ginger ale had anti-oxidated it back to health? Or was it a shady boardroom deal, where nefarious marketing types cackled with glee as they crafted the offending labels to deliberately mislead an unsuspecting public?

Probably neither. It looks to me like a simple case of ‘claim creep’, whereby a small side-benefit gets gradually built up until it finds itself leading the marketing pack. Usually with little backing from the research department.

Have you got a product or service claim with less than stellar credentials? Is there one thing you’ve been saying for so many years now that no one really knows if it’s even true? Take a look and do something about it.

Because if you don’t, someone else might.

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