WASHINGTON—The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) threatened Welch Foods, Inc., with a lawsuit unless it stops making heart-health claims on its juices, spreads, fruit juice cocktails and fruit snacks.
According to a letter sent to Welch’s, CSPI said the company should not be allowed to use the heart-health icon on its grape juice and other products because they do not improve heart health and may do harm by contributing to insulin resistance and obesity.
CSPI stated Welch’s relies on the presence of polyphenols and vitamin C in grape juice to justify its statement, often placed inside a red heart shape, that the juice “helps support a Healthy Heart." Welch’s cites only studies that were uncontrolled, conducted on animals, or that actually showed that grape juice was ineffective at providing the cardiovascular benefits associated with polyphenols. The group said Welch’s encourages consumers to drink juice in lieu of eating fresh fruit, stating that “Getting enough fruits and vegetables each day is important for overall health—but everyday life often gets in the way … Welch’s 100% Grape Juice makes it easy to squeeze in more purple fruit each day as part of a healthy diet for the whole family."
Welch’s similarly uses a giant heart-shaped logo on its Fruit Juice Cocktails, which are only 25 percent juice, as well as on various jams, spreads, and fruit snacks that are little better than candy, according to CSPI.
Labels for Welch’s Berries ’n Cherries Fruit Snacks state “Reward Your Heart" and invite consumers to “Learn about Family Heart Health at welchs.com," and to “Celebrate American Heart Month!" The labels show pictures of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries, and bear an icon stating “Made With REAL Fruit," yet the snacks are mostly made with apple and pear juice concentrates.