• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail

Unilever United States, Inc. 8/23/10

  

Department of Health and Human Services' logoDepartment of Health and Human Services

Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
 

College Park, MD 20740
 

 

 

August 23,2010

WARNING LETTER

CERTIFIED MAIL
RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

Mr. Michael B. Polk
President of Unilever Americas
Unilever, Inc.
700 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood, NJ 07632-3113

Re: CFSAN-OC-10-24

Dear Mr. Polk:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the label for your "Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated" product and reviewed your labeling for this product on your websites, www.lipton.com and www.liptont.com in August 2010. Based on our review, we have concluded that this product is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act). You can find the Act and regulations on FDA's website at www.fda.gov.

A link to .your website, www.lipton.com. appears on your "Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated" product label. This website directs U.S. visitors to another website, www.liptont.com. We have determined that your websites, www.lipton.com and www.liptont.com. are labeling within the meaning of section 201(m) of the Act for your "Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated" product.

Unapproved New Drug

Your website, www.liptont.com. also promotes your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product for conditions that cause it to be a drug under section 201(g)(1)(B) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B)].

For example, your webpage entitled "Tea and Health," subtitled "Heart Health Research" and further subtitled "Cholesterol Research" bears the following claim: "[F]our recent studies in people at risk for coronary disease have shown a significant cholesterol lowering effect from tea or tea flavonoids ... One of these studies, on post-menopausal women, found that total cholesterol was lowered by 8% after drinking 8 cups of green tea daily for 12 weeks ...."

The therapeutic claims on your website establish that the product is a drug because it is intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product is not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses and, therefore, the product is a "new drug" under section 201(p) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(p)]. New drugs may not be legally marketed in the U.S. without prior approval from FDA as described in section 505(a) of the Act [21 U.S.C.
§ 355(a)]. FDA approves a new drug on the basis of scientific data submitted by a drug sponsor to demonstrate that the drug is safe and effective.

Your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product is offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use this drug safely for its intended purposes. Thus, your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product is misbranded under section 502(f)(1) of the Act in that the labeling for this drug fails to bear adequate directions for use [21 U.S.C. § 352(f)(1)] .

Unauthorized Nutrient Content Claims

Under section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act [21 U.S.C. 343(r)(1)(A)], a claim that characterizes the level of a nutrient which is of the type required to be in the labeling of the food must be made in accordance with a regulation promulgated by the Secretary (and, by delegation, FDA) authorizing the use of such a claim. The use of a term, not defined by regulation, in food labeling to characterize the level of a nutrient misbrands a product under section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act.

Nutrient content claims using the term "antioxidant" must also comply with the requirements listed in 21 CFR 101.54(g). These requirements state, in part, that for a product to bear such a claim, an RDI must have been established for each of the nutrients that are the subject of the claim (21 CFR 101.54(g)(1)), and these nutrients must have recognized antioxidant activity (21 CFR 101.54(g)(2). The level of each nutrient that is the subject of the claim must also be sufficient to qualify for the claim under 21 CFR 101.54(b), (c), or (e) (21 CFR 101.54(g)(3)). For example, to bear the claim "high in antioxidant vitamin C," the product must contain 20 percent or more of the RDI for vitamin C under 21 CFR 101.54(b). Such a claim must also include the names of the nutrients that are the subject of the claim as part of the claim or, alternatively, the term "antioxidant" or "antioxidants" may be linked by a symbol (e.g., an asterisk) that refers to the same symbol that appears elsewhere on the same panel of the product label, followed by the name or names of the nutrients with recognized antioxidant activity (21 CFR 101.54(g)(4)). The use of a nutrient content claim that uses the term "antioxidant" but does not comply with the requirements of 21 CFR 101.54(g) misbrands a product under section 403(r)(2)(A)(i) of the Act.

Your webpage entitled "Tea and Health" and subtitled "Tea Antioxidants" includes the statement, "LIPTON Tea is made from tea leaves rich in naturally protective antioxidants." The term "rich in" is defined in 21 CFR 101.54(b) and may be used to characterize the level of antioxidant nutrients (21 CFR 101.54(g)(3)). However, this claim does not comply with 21 CFR 101.54(g)(4) because it does not include the nutrients that are the subject of the claim or use a symbol to link the term "antioxidant" to those nutrients. Thus, this claim misbrands your product under section 403(r)(2)(A)(i) of the Act.

This webpage also states that "tea is a naturally rich source of antioxidants." The term "rich source" characterizes the level of antioxidant nutrients in the product and, therefore, this claim is a nutrient content claim (see section 403(r)(1) of the Act and 21 CFR 101.13(b)). Even if we determined that the term "rich source" could be considered a synonym for a term defined by regulation (e.g., "high" or "good source"), nutrient content claims that use the term "antioxidant" must meet the requirements of 21 CFR 101.54(g). The claim "tea is a naturally rich source of antioxidants" does not include the nutrients that are the subject of the claim or use a symbol to link the term "antioxidant" to those nutrients, as required by 21 CFR 101.54(g)(4). Thus, this claim misbrands your product under section 403(r)(2)(A)(i) of the Act.

The product label back panel includes the statement "packed with protective FLAVONOID ANTIOXIDANTS." The term "packed with" characterizes the level of flavonoid antioxidants in the product; therefore, this claim is a nutrient content claim (see section 403(r)(1) of the Act and 21 CFR 101.13(b)). Even if we determined that the term "packed with" could be considered a synonym for a term defined by regulation, nutrient content claims that use the term "antioxidant" must meet the requirements of 21 CFR 101.54(g). The claim "packed with FLAVONOID ANTIOXIDANTS" does not comply with 21 CFR 101.54(g)1) because no RDI has been established for flavonoids. Thus, this unauthorized nutrient content claim causes your product to be misbranded under section 403(r)(2)(A)(i) of the Act.

The above violations are not meant to be an all-inclusive list of deficiencies in your products or their labeling. It is your responsibility to ensure that all of your products are in compliance with the laws and regulations enforced by FDA. You should take prompt action to correct the violations. Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in regulatory actions without further notice, such as seizure and/or injunction.

We note that your label contains a chart entitled "Flavonoid Content of selected beverages and foods." The chart appears to compare the amounts of antioxidants in your product with the amount of antioxidants in orange juice, broccoli, cranberry juice and coffee. However, the information provided may be misinterpreted by the consumer because although the chart is labeled, in part, "Flavonoid Content," the y-axis is labeled "AOX"; therefore, the consumer might believe that the chart is stating the total amount of antioxidants rather than specifically measuring the amount of flavonoids in the product.

You should take prompt action to correct these violations. Please respond to this letter within 15 days from receipt with the actions you plan to take in response to this letter, including an explanation of each step being taken to correct the current violations and prevent similar violations. Include any documentation necessary to show that correction has been achieved. If you cannot complete corrective action within fifteen working days, state the reason for the delay and the time within which you will complete the correction.

You should direct your written reply to Latasha A. Robinson, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, Office of Compliance (HFS-608), Division of Enforcement, College Park, Maryland 20740-3835.

Sincerely,

/s/

 

Jennifer A. Thomas
Acting Director
Office of Compliance
Center for Food Safety
and Applied Nutrition

 

cc: FDA New Jersey District