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US: Welch's in row with watchdog over health claims

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Welch's has rejected allegations its fruit-based products, including juices, fail to justify the health claims on their labelling.

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US consumer watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said the food and drinks firm, known for its grape juices, was making "deceptive" claims about its products and using misleading labels.

However, a Welch's spokesperson said the group goes to "great lengths" to ensure "all our communications are truthful, well supported by science, and easy for consumers to understand". 

The spokesperson insisted the health claims carried on Welch's products were underpinned by scientific studies that concluded grape juice made from Concord grapes support heart health. 

"When it comes to heart health, the substantial body of research conducted over a 15-year period supports the cardiovascular benefits of 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes, including many placebo controlled, human studies," the spokesperson told just-food. 

However, a spokesperson for CSPI maintained Welch's health claims are misleading. 

"CSPI is concerned with Welch's juices, spreads, fruit juice cocktails, and fruit snacks. They do not justify claims of health benefits on the labels due to their high sugar and calorie content, which can contribute to obesity and diabetes," the spokesperson said. 

"CSPI argues that the studies cited by Welch's to justify the health claims do not actually provide evidence that Welch's products are healthy. This means that the labels are misleading, which violates FDAs rules for food labeling."

The consumer group has indicated it is considering taking legal action against Welch's over the group's health claims. 

Welch's declined to comment further on "subjects of potential litigation".


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