Every day you see benefits and claims regarding tea. Green tea is usually the one mentioned, as it seems that more studies have been done on green tea than on any other type, e.g., black, white, etc., perhaps because it has more antioxidants than any other type of tea. As this tea drinker has so often spoken about in seminars she has presented on tea, there is often confusion when it comes to benefits and claims. On one end, for example, we all know that vitamin C has known benefits. At the other end is a claim, such as that drinking orange juice daily will prevent [fill in the blank]. It is the claims that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a problem with, especially when it comes to the evidence or, rather, the lack of it.
And the FDA has no problem putting a manufacturer on notice when a health claim has no scientific evidence. Just last month the FDA put Rishi Tea on notice for improper use of health claims. And now, Ten Ren Tea is in hot water for the same. On May 6, 2011, the FDA stated that the company is promoting its tea as unapproved drugs on its product labels, and there is no scientific evidence. You can read the entire letter that the FDA sent to Ten Ren Tea here. Apparently the wording that the company has used establishes their products as “drugs,” and, as such, the company is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B)]. Interesting letter. In short, green tea does not reduce blood pressure or your risk of a heart attack or cancer.
Up until February of this year (except for one in 2005, which was clarified in 2010), the FDA had not approved any claims for tea health. But now, the agency has issued a qualified health claim for green tea:
- “Two studies do not show that drinking green tea reduces the risk of breast cancer in women, but one weaker, more limited study suggests that drinking green tea may reduce this risk. Based on these studies, FDA concludes that it is highly unlikely that green tea reduces the risk of breast cancer”; and
- “One weak and limited study does not show that drinking green tea reduces the risk of prostate cancer, but another weak and limited study suggests that drinking green tea may reduce this risk. Based on these studies, FDA concludes that it is highly unlikely that green tea reduces the risk of prostate cancer.”
If your reaction to those statements is, “Huh?” and you are confused with the term “qualified health claim,” you are in good company.
The bottom line (or almost bottom line?) is: Drink tea because it has some benefits, it tastes good, it has no calories, and because you like it.
For more information on an the actual FDA wording for the qualified health claim regarding green tea and breast cancer, click here. Fleminger, Inc., had quoted the FDA, but not completely, and thus the FDA sent a warning letter addressing other claims as well (February 2010). Yes, the FDA had issued the notice in 2005, and it clarified it in 2010.
FOR MORE INFORMATION on health claims and whether the FDA approves of them, click here.