Tropicana settles F.T.C. charges over juice health claims

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission has settled a complaint against Tropicana Products, Inc., in which the Commission alleged the company misled consumers with claims that drinking two to three glasses a day of its "Healthy Heart" orange juice would reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Under the terms of the consent agreement settling the charges, Tropicana is prohibited from making similar health-related claims in the future unless they can be substantiated by reliable scientific evidence.

Greg Shearson, president of Tropicana Beverages North America, said, "We are pleased to have successfully resolved this matter with the F.T.C. and are moving forward with promoting the benefits of Tropicana products as part of a healthy diet.

Eating a good breakfast that includes drinking a glass of Tropicana orange juice is one of the healthiest ways to start the day and we're committed to providing timely, accurate and science-based information to help people do this.

As the F.T.C. has noted, entering into this settlement agreement is not an admission that the law has been violated or that the facts alleged are true. We have agreed not to make the claims identified in the settlement agreement without competent and reliable scientific evidence."

In its complaint, the F.T.C. cited Tropicana’s "Healthy Heart" ads, which ran between 2002 and early 2004 on television and in general publications and claimed drinking Tropicana orange juice would result in dramatic improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and homocysteine levels. The F.T.C. complaint charged that the benefits were not substantiated and claims of clinical support for them were false.

The consent order prohibits Tropicana from making the challenged claims or any similar claims about the effects of orange juice or other foods on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, folate levels, and homocysteine levels or other biological markers or health-related endpoints unless the company substantiates the claim with competent and reliable scientific evidence.

The order also prohibits claims by Tropicana that any food will have an effect on the risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer unless substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The order also prohibits any misrepresentations relating to tests or studies.

Tropicana is permitted under the settlement to make certain claims that comply with specific Food and Drug Administration regulations for food labeling. Finally, the order contains various record keeping requirements to assist the F.T.C. in monitoring compliance.

Tropicana Products is based in Chicago and is a subsidiary of PepsiCo.

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