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Advocates ask Welch's to curb health claim

Aug. 14, 2012 at 11:56 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- The Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington says Welch's shouldn't be slapping a heart-health icon on its grape juice and other products.

Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the non-profit CSPI, said Welch's relies on the presence of polyphenols and vitamin C in grape juice to justify its statement that its juice "helps support a Healthy Heart."

Welch's cites only studies that were uncontrolled, conducted on animals, or that in fact showed grape juice was ineffective at providing the cardiovascular benefits associated with polyphenols, Jacobson said.

Jacobson said Welch's encourages consumers to drink juice in lieu of eating fresh fruit, stating; "Getting enough fruits and vegetables each day is important for overall health -- but everyday life often gets in the way ... Welch's 100 percent grape juice makes it easy to squeeze in more purple fruit each day as part of a healthy diet for the whole family."

In a letter to Bradley Irwin, the chief executive officer of Welch Foods Inc., Jacobson said the effects of too much sugar and too many calories negate any possible health benefits from Welch's products.

"An 8-ounce serving of Welch's grape juice contains 36 grams of sugar and 140 calories, about one-third more than the same amount of Coca-Cola," Jacobson wrote. "Most Americans concerned about their weight and risk of diabetes would actually do well to drink less juice. It's deceptive and misleading for Welch's to claim that grape juice has any special benefit to heart health."

CSPI's letter invited Welch's to resolve the issues it raised without litigation, but said if Welch's does not respond, CSPI will pursue litigation.

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