FDA Threatened Celestial Tea Company over Use of Natural
Thursday, January 31, 2008 by: David Gutierrez -
(NaturalNews) The FDA has sent a warning letter to the Hain
Celestial Group, instructing the natural and organic food producer to relabel
certain products that contain the sweetener stevia. The letter concerned the
Celestial Zingers To Go tea and drink mix products, which the FDA charges are
being labeled and marketed as food products, even though an ingredient they
contain -- the stevia herb -- has not been approved for use in foods in the
Stevia, derived from a South American plant, has become popular as a sweetener
because it has 300 times the sweetness of table
sugar but almost no impact
on blood glucose levels. Its taste is said to have a slower onset than that of
sugar and to last longer.
Stevia has been approved for use in food and beverage products in a number of
countries, including Brazil, Canada, China and Japan, but to date
the FDA has only approved
it as an ingredient in dietary supplements.
In response to the warning letter, Hain Celestial Group removed the term "iced
tea mix" from all labels of the products in question, and made the words "herbal
supplement" much more prominent.
In light of the increasing popularity of
stevia and the fact that
companies like Hain Celestial have apparently been trying to get around
regulations of its use, the FDA said that it expects to soon receive a petition
to approve the sweetener for use in foods. Reportedly, both the
Coca-Cola Company and
Cargill are interested in producing stevia-sweetened products, with Coca-Cola
having filed 24 patent applications related to the sweetener.
But the FDA said that current information is not sufficient to prove stevia safe
as an ingredient for food.
"Data and information necessary to support the safe use have been lacking," the
FDA's letter to Hain Celestial read. "In fact, literature reports have raised
safety concerns about the use of stevia, including concerns about control of
blood sugar and the effects of reproductive, cardiovascular and renal systems."
Consumer health advocate Mike Adams, a long-time supporter of stevia, disagrees.
"The FDA has been stalling on stevia approval for well over a decade in order to
protect the profits of
aspartame," Adams said. "Stevia is safely used around the world by hundreds
of millions of consumers with absolutely no problems, while aspartame is tied to
seizures, blindness, headaches and other serious neurological problems. The FDA
once ordered the destruction of books containing stevia recipes. That's how
desperate this criminal organization is to protect the profit racket of
aspartame," Adams concluded.